PORTAGE | The Portage Police Department will receive three new K-9 officers next month.
Chuckie, Bolo and Bomber will be the newest additions to the department, after six weeks of training with their human handlers.
Police Chief Troy Williams announced at Tuesday's City Council meeting that, thanks to residents and businesses in the community, the city is able to purchase three canines from Faus International of Elkhart.
The canines are presently in training with their handlers, officers Wendell Hite, Richard Schmitt and Kyle Lerch. The three were chosen after nine officers applied to be canine handlers.
The department found itself without a canine unit about a year ago when its last dog, Fax, had to retire because of medical issues.
Williams announced last month that they were going to make an effort to resurrect the unit as soon as possible. After an article appeared in The Times last month, Williams said about $10,000 was donated to the department for the unit. They already had about $3,000 and last year received a $9,000 grant from the Porter County Substance Abuse Council for a canine.
The three dogs will cost $33,800. Williams said they are seeking additional donations and that the city will also help fund the purchase.
In addition, Williams said, Portage Animal Clinic has offered to donate routine care for the animals and Pet Supply in Valparaiso is donating dog food.
"We are thrilled with the amount we have gotten so far," Williams said, adding donations ranged from $25 to $3,000. "People realized we need the dogs. We could not be more thankful."
All three are German shepherds, but are distinct in coloring and markings. They are all being trained as multitasking canines to do tracking, narcotics work and handler protection.
Williams said the department and the canine unit will also initiate an on-going fundraising program in hopes of funding a fourth dog, to help with their maintenance and to raise enough money to replace the canines when they retire.