It was meant to be a call for donations, but instead it was a thank you.
When Waunakee Police Chief Kevin Plendl scheduled his appearance at the Sept. 29 Waunakee Rotary meeting, he had no idea the Waunakee K9 capital campaign would exceed its goal by then.
“In a short period of time, we achieved our initiative,” said Chief Plendl.
The fundraising campaign began about five or six weeks ago when Rotarian Phil Willems and Waunakee Community Foundation member Steve Kraus announced their organizations would each donate $2,000 toward the $12,000 needed for the police K9.
With $4,000 toward the $12,000 goal, Phil Simon of Simon Builders approached Plendl and asked if he could sell signs stating, “We Support Our Waunakee Police” to bolster the K9 fund. Those sales raised $2,042, Plendl said.
Shortly afterwards, a private donor came into the police station with a $7,000 gift.
Plendl asked the woman why she was moved to donate.
She told him she and her husband had relocated to Waunakee within the last five years.
“They have six grandchildren in the school district. She said, ‘I’m aware of what the dog does.’” Plendl said.
Officer Mitch Houk will be the K9 handler. He will go to a K9 training facility in Pennsylvania in February or March where he will meet a number of dogs who have been trained. Once it’s determined which dog Houk bonds with most, he will begin a six-week training with that K9 before he brings the dog home to Waunakee.
Plendl said a K9 plays an important role in policing. Alex, the former K9 with Waunakee Police Officer Adam Kreitzman, aided in more than 140 drug arrests during his tenure. That dog was retired last spring due to health reasons.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Adam Kreitzman,” Plendl said, adding that he began Waunakee’s K9 program.
Kreitzman developed a deep bond with Alex, and the dog’s retirement affected him tremendously, Plendl said. Alex still lives with Kreitzman and his family.
In addition to detecting drugs, Alex visited the Waunakee schools with Officer Kreitzman for a number of programs. The dog commanded more attention from the children than the officer could.
Like Alex, the new K9 will be a black Labrador Retriever and a no-bite dog.
Altogether, the K9 fundraising effort raised more than $15,000, Plendl said. While ongoing costs for the dog aren’t great, special equipment is needed for the K9 squad car. That includes an alarm system to prevent the dog from being left in the squad car.
Overall, Plendl said he is grateful for the community’s generosity.
“I feel really fortunate to be living in Waunakee and working in Waunakee,” he said, adding that he is one of two people in the department who are from the community.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said.
Other news:
•Let Bob Klostermann know if you’d like to tour the Clown Fish Farm on Oct. 12. They will stop at Ale Asylum afterwards, so you can meet up there, too, at about 6:30 p.m.
•Halloween at the Farm is Oct. 22. Volunteers can help out with the event, Jim Ableidinger said.
•An informal gathering is planned to watch the Packers vs. Bears game at Lucky’s at 7 p.m. Oct. 20.
•Phil Willems is back after a small stroke and says he’s learning to walk again, and it’s great. Welcome back, Phil!!
Greeters: Oct. 6, Bill Erickson and Dan Evans; Oct. 13, Allison Feldbruegge and Greg Garton; Oct. 20, Randy Guttenberg and Rich Harris.