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January 18, 2003

Donations Go to the Dogs

From: Winchester Star, VA - 18 Jan 2003

By Stephanie M. Mangino
The Winchester Star

Detective work will get much easier for the furriest members of the Winchester Police Department.

Donations of $1,000 from both Shenandoah Sams, a recreational vehicle and camping club, and the family of local dentist Gerald J. Brown provided most of the money needed to start the department’s “hot dog system,” Winchester Police Chief Gary W. Reynolds said Friday.

The system benefits the department’s K-9 unit by regulating the temperature in a police car and prompting the windows to roll down if the car gets too hot for the dog, Winchester Police Sgt. Brian King said Friday as he held onto his canine companion, Rico.

If the mercury rises too high, the officer can be paged through the system to check on the dog.

Another feature of the system is a door popper, which allows the officer to open the rear door of a police car from a remote location, King said.

Reynolds said he feels much more comfortable that the system is in place, helping to promote officer safety, and in turn, community safety.

He offered the entire department’s thanks for the donations at a short ceremony Friday at the Timbrook Public Safety Center, in which plaques of appreciation were given to the Browns and Shenandoah Sams representatives Aaron and Brenda Mitchell, who also serve as the director and secretary of the club’s state organization.

“Without community support, we could not operate as a police department,” Reynolds told the Browns.

Gerald Brown said his family wanted to help the K-9 program while also honoring slain Winchester Police Department Sgt. Ricky L. Timbrook, who had introduced their children to some police animals through the DARE anti-drug program.

The family contacted Winchester Police Department Lt. Rick Bush, and “asked what ways
we could help,” said Brown’s wife, Tammy.

“And also, K-9s are awesome,” added the couple’s 11-year-old daughter, Ali.

Shenandoah Sams already had connections with working dogs. They’ve donated in the past
to Dogs for the Deaf, in which dogs are trained to assist hearing-impaired people, Aaron Mitchell said.

The group, which Brenda Mitchell said has also assisted with the local Special Olympics
Torch Run, was looking to do something a little different with its most recent donation.

The group considered buying bullet-proof vests for the animals, but then they heard about this program and liked it.

“It helped the officer as well as the animal,” Aaron Mitchell said.

The group of donors received a real-life demonstration of the “hot dog system” on Friday.

King and Rico headed down to the parking lot, and Rico hopped into their cruiser.

King explained that if he needed Rico, all he had to do was push a button and “boom, he’ll jump right out of the door.”

King pushed, and Rico appeared after the cruiser door clicked open.

The equipment has been placed in the department’s two K-9 cruisers, Reynolds said, and it will be used again in the future.

“I am so impressed with the equipment that it is a given that it will be put in the third K-9 car,” Reynolds said. The department is taking applications for that third slot now.

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