K9s for Law provides dogs to agencies nationwide

Photo by abby breaux photography
From left to right, Officer Mark Tappan and K9 Mattis, Joann Maloof, Ssecretary and Board Member, Sydney Lee, K9 for Law founder, Nataly Marks, CFO/Treasurer and Board Member, and Corporal Beth Roberts and K9 Dane.
Photo by abby breaux photography
Photo by abby breaux photography
Photo by abby breaux photography
Corporal Beth Roberts and K9 Dane and Officer Mark Tappan and K9 Mattis.

According to a 2017 study of Georgia law enforcement agencies, 80 percent of the departments do not have an established K9 unit.

K9 officers are crucial in helping police in explosive detection, suspect apprehension and narcotic detection, often with more reliability results than their two legged partner.

That’s according to the Johns Creek nonprofit K9s for Law, which went public in May. The organization raises money for law enforcement agencies to acquire a K9 officer.

Sydney Lee founded the group after learning of that statistic and realizing the public doesn’t know what K9s do for the agencies.

“These departments either want to add more dogs or start their first unit,” Lee said. “But they cannot, due to budgetary constraints. You have some agencies trying to fundraise through GoFundMe and selling bumper stickers. They should not have to fundraise for the tools they need to safely and effectively do their jobs.”

On average, a K9 officer can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000, a prohibitive expense for many agencies.

The return on investment is significant, Lee said, because the dogs can serve the community for usually eight more years.

Since it opened just five months ago, the nonprofit has received 50 applications from around the United States requesting a grant for a K9 at their local agency.

The process includes an advisory council to review applications. Then money is raised by K9s for Law. All the while, the canines take a six- to eight-week long dog training class with handlers, paid for by the nonprofit.

The organization has raised enough money since opening for its first K9, which will go to an agency within the next few weeks.

The only cost to a department is paying for their transportation.

“I got an application from California and called her,” Lee said. “She said, ‘this will be our first K9 dog and we’re desperate. I can fundraise for a plane ticket, but I can’t raise enough money for a dog.’”

While the response has been good, it’s still a testament to how many departments are lacking the services a trained canine brings to the job.

“They realize how valuable the canine is for the community,” Lee said. “One grant will impact the town from the old and young to the businesses. Everyone will be positively impacted for the next six to eight years.”

Local officers have reached out and supported Lee and the nonprofit. She said an officer told her he’d do anything to help her because the local community is fortunate to have the tools they need.

“Here we have enough in our budgets to have K9s,” Lee said. “The community can support it, and there’s support behind it. But there are a lot of towns that aren’t as fortunate and don’t have the funding for it.”

Lee said she hopes the nonprofit will be a way to pay it forward to other communities.

“It really does work and keeps everyone safe,” Lee said. “We’re able to give people the opportunity to use this tool.”

To learn more about K9s for Law, visit ■


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