Animal rescue group raises money for K-9 unit

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published September 7, 2016

HARPER WOODS — The BP gas station at Harper and Vernier hosted a fundraiser on Aug. 26 to raise money to fund a new K-9 unit for the Harper Woods Police Department.

The fundraiser was organized by the Grosse Pointe Animal Adoption Society, a local group that fosters adoption in the Grosse Pointe area and works to improve animal well-being. The K-9 unit would consist of a specially trained police dog and a designated police officer who would manage the animal.

“The GPAAS is a nonprofit adoption organization which has operated in the Grosse Pointe area for 20 years and served as an animal shelter for Harper Woods, Grosse Pointe Shores and Grosse Pointe Woods,” explained Corinne Martin, executive director of the GPAAS. “These cities have had K-9 officers in the past, but there is currently only a K-9 unit in this area in Grosse Pointe Farms, so we have been campaigning to get more K-9 units in other communities, starting with Harper Woods.”

The money raised will go toward the cost of the dog, a designated vehicle for the dog and the equipment needed to accommodate the animal.

“We feel this is critical,” said Martin. “We would like to see every city have a K-9 program. A K-9 on the force is a partner for the department: It can help with search and rescue and is great for interacting with the community.”

The BP station fundraiser raised $4,580 toward the Harper Woods K-9 program. 

“We are at 63 percent of our goal to kick the program off, which means the essentials for Officer (Steve) Johnson to start the K-9 academy on Oct. 24,” said Martin. “We will continue to raise funds for other equipment necessary for the program, but the dog and vehicle is enough to get us started. We are grateful to everyone who supported the event and to the owner of the BP station, who was beyond generous. This will provide for the dog and training, a police vehicle with appropriate equipment for a K-9 dog. We will continue to raise funds for other equipment necessary for the program, but the dog and vehicle is enough to get us started. It was a wonderful opportunity to see the community spirit generated today.”

Ammar Kattoula, the owner of the station, said he was excited to help the community and give the GPAAS a location to host its event.

“Officer Johnson had come by some time ago saying they had lost their K-9 unit and they were raising money for another,” said Kattoula. “We donated some money for the cause and we had hosted fundraisers before for their city, so we thought we would do it again for this because we’ve had success in the past and we are very thankful to the Harper Woods Police Department. We appreciate everything they do for us.”

Johnson will be the designated K-9 officer for the department once the funds are raised. He said the benefits that a K-9 unit can bring to a community are numerous.

“A new K-9 unit will help the department with public relations, it will help protect officers and the community through protection and de-escalation, and the dog will be trained in searching and tracking for different types of evidence, such as clothing or drugs,” Johnson said. “I am extremely thankful for the GPAAS putting themselves out there and doing this for the department and the people of Harper Woods.”

To donate or to get more information, contact Martin at (313) 884-1551.