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K-9 Officer Zorro set to retire, donations needed for new police dog

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FORTUNA- The Fortuna Police Department K-9 unit is run solely on donations, but is stretching thin. The program started in 2006, but due to budget cuts the unit became a donation based program in 2012,
 
“Veterinary services were donated to us, we were fortunate enough to have some of the local feed stores donate the food for the program so it has cut down some of the costs” said K-9 Officer and Fortuna Police Employees’ Association Secretary Jason Kadle, “It is a very pricy program."
 
Zorro is the department's only K-9 Officer and his handler; Sergeant Jason Kadle, has been his partner for nearly a decade. The program costs roughly $25,000 per year to operate said Kadle, which helps pay for both the canine and handler's training,  canine housing, food, and any call that Zorro is asked to assist in.
 
"You wouldn't think it would cost that much to run a K-9 unit program but every little thing adds up."
 
Typically police dogs have an average of seven to nine years of service before they are retired. Zorro will be retiring in the summer of 2014 after eight years on patrol, "He is getting up there, he is slowing down a little bit, it is time for him to retire and become a pet,” added Kadle.
 
"The start-up costs are greater than the yearly costs to maintain the program," said Kadle, "The cost for a new police dog and the training amounts to approximately $11,500, now we have the cost of purchasing a new dog and sending another officer to training, and that is on top of the $25,000 a year to start a new dog."
 
Kadle said the program is valuable and Zorro is one of few K-9 officers in the county, who helps assist other local law enforcement agencies when he is requested.
 
"He is a great asset, he is there to help us. I would hate to see the program in Fortuna end."
 
If you would like to donate to the unit you can contact the Fortuna Police Employees’ Foundation at (707) 200-3732 or donate online by visiting this link. You can also mail a donation to: Fortuna Police Employees' Foundation, PO Box 795, Fortuna, CA 95540.