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Lodi Police Department's K-9 unit earns money by running local car wash

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Posted: Sunday, August 25, 2002 10:00 pm

Police cars and officers with dogs at the Prime Shine Express car wash on Kettleman Lane on Sunday afternoon drew the attention of passers-by, but no arrests were made or citations issued.

Instead, officers collected money while car wash employees ran the car wash - and donated nearly $2,500 made during the day to the department's K-9 unit.

For a donation of $4.50, motorists could get a car wash and stop to pet the police dogs as they lay beneath a nearby canopy.

Lodi resident Mike Poteej first wondered why several police cars were parked at the car wash, but when he learned it was a fund-raiser, he thought it was "pretty neat," and his two daughters were thrilled to pet the dogs.

Officers gave the girls police trading cards while police dogs Sam and Tosca competed for attention.

Lodi police Officer Dee Dee Dutra watches as Rachel Straight, 5, of Lodi, gives Sam, a Lodi police dog, a pat on the head Sunday during a fund-raiser for the department's K-9 unit at Prime Shine Express on Kettleman Lane. (Jennifer Matthews-Howell/News-Sentinel)

The Lodi Police Department's K-9 unit has five dogs, four of which are used for protection and one which is used solely for sniffing narcotics, Officer Ken Slater said.

"Their primary job is finding bad guys and getting them," Slater said.

But the cost of the dog program can get expensive, and the K-9 unit is funded entirely by donations.

Slater paid $4,000 for his dog, Solo, and once he was certified, the city paid Slater $1 for the dog. In exchange, the city pays for all dog food, insurance and veterinary bills. The police department's K-9 unit pays for equipment and training.

"The money raised here will pay for equipment that ranges from dog bowls and leashes to protective sleeves and full suits," Slater said Sunday.

A full suit, used to train dogs to properly stop criminals, costs more than $1,200, he said.

In addition, money will go toward the department's 16th annual K-9 Trials on Sept. 7. Held in Lodi, the all-day event will feature competitions between K-9 officers from California, Oregon and Nevada, Slater said.

Sunday's car wash raised $2,479.15 for the K-9 unit, and Prime Shine Express absorbed all costs, including paying six employees to work all day, said Austin DiPirro, who runs the car wash.

The fund-raiser, called "Paws for the Cause," was started about six years ago, DiPirro said. Similar fund-raisers were held Sunday at other Prime Shine Express locations, including Modesto and Turlock.

Owners of the car wash company approached the Lodi Police Department with the fund-raiser idea earlier this year, and K-9 officers were more than willing to help.

"It's the best fund-raiser we've ever had," K-9 Officer Brian Freeman said.

While many people were going about their normal routines and had no idea the car wash was any different Sunday, others came to donate to the cause.

Dan Funk, who was a reserve officer for 13 years until 1978, brought his pickup truck to the car wash, though he usually just washes it himself.

Others, instead of paying the $4.50 for a car wash, gave officers $10 and told them to just keep the change.

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