Commissioners approve retirement of K-9 KarmaMay 6, 2019
By BILL POWELL
The Dubois County Commissioners approved the retirement of the Dubois County Sheriff’s Office’s K-9 Karma today.
The sheriff’s office says the 9-year-old German shepherd that had served since 2014 will be retiring to a simpler life as the family pet of her former partner, Detective Sgt. Jesus Monarrez.
Monarrez, Karma, Sheriff Tom Kleinhelter and Chief Deputy Chris Faulkenberg appeared before the commissioners to request the retirement.
Hip problems that plague German shepherds could limit Karma’s tour if an attempt was made to pair her with another handler, Monarrez told the commissioners.
She shows some beginning signs of stiffness “and I don’t want that to deteriorate,” Monarrez said. “I would rather have her live the rest of her life at my property in my house.”
Monarrez has an 18-acre property with chickens, goats and horses.
“She would be able to be a farm dog,” Monarrez told the commissioners. “If you ... would essentially let me have her as a family member, she would be able to roam the property freely.”
Karma’s retirement comes a year after Deputy Brad Kendall’s 9-year-old black Labrador, Judge, retired as a department K-9.
Kleinhelter provided the commissioners with statistics showing that, during Judge and Karma’s years of service, the K-9s were involved in more than 500 deployments, recovering thousands of dollars of drug money and countless syringes, pipes and other pieces of drug paraphernalia. The dogs found more than 12 pounds of marijuana, multiple illegal handguns and more than 4 pounds of methamphetamine.
The canine duo is also credited with tracking multiple suspects, finding cocaine, pounds of synthetic drugs and heroin, and with assisting in taking down five meth labs.
The sheriff’s office says Judge and Karma were known for their public appearances in the community at schools, factories, businesses, churches and community clubs. When they weren’t doing demonstrations at community functions, the dogs took part in countless traffic stops and assisted other law enforcement agencies in the county on many calls.
With the ever-increasing presence and use of drugs in the community, plus violence and property crimes, the sheriff’s office would like to keep the K-9 program alive. It will be reactivated with Deputy Clint Gogel serving as the new K-9 officer.
Donations are being sought for a new, dual-purpose dog that the sheriff’s office says will greatly expand the office’s capabilities, allowing the agency to quickly detect controlled substances in schools, businesses and vehicles.
The sheriff’s office says the new K-9 will be used during traffic stops, consent searches, searches related to arrests and searches pursuant to a search warrant.
Faulkenberg says a trained K-9’s acute sense of smell can help it search a location for drugs in a fraction of the time it would take an officer. The sheriff’s office’s new K-9 will also be trained to assist in the tracking of lost people and the apprehension of fleeing suspects.
Commissioner Chad Blessinger said he learned from Gogel that K-9 handlers must log 16 hours of continuing education training each month with their K-9 partner.
“That was a surprising number to me,” Blessinger said in thanking Monarrez for his service as a K-9 handler. “For Mr. Gogel to pick up the mantle to do this is a big commitment.”
“Absolutely,” agreed Monarrez.
Blessinger made the motion to give Karma “the deserved retirement.” His motion was seconded by Commissioner Nick Hostetter, with Commissioner Elmer Brames also voting in favor.
Because of county budget constraints, the sheriff’s office says it must seek donations from community members, civic groups and businesses in order to afford the continuing costs and purchasing of a new K-9 and equipment. Faulkenberg said all donations will be put toward the purchase and training of the new K-9.
The sheriff’s office says any and all donations will be helpful in its efforts. Those interested in contributing to the cause can contact Gogel at 812-639-9950.
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