When the Pleasant Prairie Police Department was getting ready to introduce its new police dog to the community, officers decided to use his launch to do a little good for the pups living at Safe Harbor Humane Society.
The department asked fifth-graders at Prairie Lane, Pleasant Prairie and Whittier schools to donate food, toys and supplies for the animals at the humane society.
The class that collected the most donations would win the honor of naming the dog joining the Pleasant Prairie force as the new K-9 officer this month.
“They collected 872 items in a week and a half,” said Mikal Sexton, the department’s school resource officer.
Sexton helped organize the contest with Officer Mike Algiers, who will be the handler for the new police dog.
The winning class was teacher Heidi Tobalsky’s fifth-grade class at Prairie Lane School, which collected 210 items. The runner-up class at Pleasant Prairie Elementary was just edged out, collecting 207 items.
“We gave them three choices for names,” Police Chief David Smetana said — Chase, Kilo and Onyx.
The kids settled quickly on Chase.
On Friday, Chase and Algiers stopped in at the Pleasant Prairie Police Station to check out the haul of donations raised in the new K-9’s honor.
Sexton said the students in the contest had a visit and demonstration from a dog from the training program working with Chase and Algiers.
“The kids were really excited about it,” Sexton said.
Community steps up
The police department supports the K-9 program through donations and fundraising rather than tax dollars, so when their last police dog Echo retired last fall after eight years working for the department, a group of anonymous local business owners stepped in to fund the cost of purchasing and training a new dog, Smetana said.
Algiers said he had admired the work of Echo and his handler, officer Scott Beaumier. When Echo retired to become Beaumier’s family dog and Beaumier became a detective, Algiers applied to be the department’s next K-9 handler.
Algiers said he and Chase just finished the first week of their eight-week training course with the Tops Police K-9 program in Grayslake, Ill. When they are done, Chase will be on the job full time, trained in police work such as narcotics detection and tracking.
When Chase isn’t on the job, he will be living with Algiers at home with the officer’s family.
For now, Algiers said, Chase is learning to adjust to life as a police dog on the job and a family dog off the clock.
Everything from being in a house to being in a police car is new to him, Algiers said.
“He’s lived in a kennel his whole life. This is his first time in a house,” the officer said.