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New organization to support central Indiana police dogs

(Provided Photo/Cpl. Kyle Schaefer, Hendricks County Sheriff's Office)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Police dogs are a special part of the law enforcement community. Now a new, local organization wants to help train, support, and honor them.

The Central Indiana K9 Association is just a few months old and it is already launching what it’s calling the Shadow Fund, a medical grant program which will financially support retired K9s.

Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Kyle Schaefer has been working with police dogs for 12 years.

“I just enjoy the animals. I love the aspect of working with dogs and what they can do and their ability,” Schaefer said.

Earlier this year, Cpl. Schaefer’s partner Bak was forced into retirement.

“He was getting older and I was hoping to get a couple more years out of him, but the health condition came up kind of unexpectedly and forced to retire him,” Schaefer said.

It’s an enlarged heart, which has Bak on three medications every day for the rest of his life.

“Once he’s officially retired, he’s mine and I’m responsible for all the vet bills,” Schaefer said.

That’s where the Central Indiana K9 Association and it’s Shadow Fund comes in.

“It’s mainly to help step in and provide a medical grant so those dogs can get the care that they need,” Theresa Brandon, chairperson and co-founder of the Central Indiana K9 Association, said. “I’ve had some people refer to it as the VA program for canines.”

Brandon said although just a few months into the work, she has seen overwhelming support from the community.

“People first of all are usually very drawn and emotional about animals, but when you have an animal that literally serves the community. People recognize that. They’re very enamored by these dogs that they’re very powerful, but they’re very loyal to their handlers,” Brandon said.

So while Cpl. Schaefer welcomes his new dog Deaks to the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office, he’ll know Bak can rest well in his retirement.

“We look at these dogs as our kids, our family. I mean, they are family,” Schaefer said.

Law enforcement officers can start the application process for a Shadow Fund grant on August 1 on the Central Indiana K9 Association web site.

In additional to that initiative, the Central Indiana K9 Association has two other goals, to create a training facility for police dogs in central Indiana and to build a monument to honor retired dogs and those killed in the line of duty.