Search for new dog underway

By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent

After a brief hiatus, the head of the Whitewater Police Department has emphatically stated a reinstatement of the city’s K-9 unit is imminent.

Police Chief Lisa Otterbacher said a search is underway for the successor of Boomer, the lab who was the founding member of the K-9 unit.

Boomer left the Whitewater Police Department earlier this year because his handler, Officer Joe Matteson, resigned from the force to pursue another law enforcement opportunity outside the community.

The Common Council earlier this year agreed to let Matteson keep Boomer with the caveat he pays $3,500 — the amount the city paid to train the four-footed member of the force with such skills as illegal drug detection.

At a Police and Fire Commission meeting Feb. 22, Otterbacher laid out the timeline for bringing in a new dog to the K-9 unit. The department is working with an organization in Little Rock, Ark., with expertise in training labs.

“We’ve been very picky,” Otterbacher said of finding a dog perfectly suited to Whitewater’s K-9 unit. “That’s why we had to go out of state.”

The timeline Otterbacher laid out calls for selecting a new handler within the department by mid-April. Training for the handler and the lab joining the force is expected to take place in early to mid May.

“We should have a 100-percent functioning K-9 unit by the end of May,” Otterbacher said.

As was the case with Boomer, Otterbacher said the continuation of the department’s K-9 unit will essentially be a donor-driven effort. Before Boomer was brought on three years ago, an extensive fundraising appeal was underway.

“Our donors have been exceedingly kind,” Otterbacher said. “We have some really, really generous people … who fell in love with Boomer.”

Additionally, Otterbacher said the same outside groups that assisted with such efforts as providing medical care and routine check-ups will continue to do so at no cost to taxpayers.

 

 

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