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Eilonwy Lockwood, 7, of Superior pets Marik, the Superior Police Department’s new K9 officer, Thursday in Superior. Marik will be one of several area canine officers available to meet the public during a community “Operation K-9” next week. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

Dogs collar ‘suspects’ during demonstration

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Don Leighton

Prepare to be wowed when the Northland Law Enforcement K-9 Foundation launches its first — and soon to be annual — event to feature the dogs supported for the K-9 programs in Duluth, Superior, and St. Louis and Douglas counties.

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You’ll be amazed by what these majestic, intelligent and beautiful dogs can do. Loving and gentle, they are a fierce force in the fight against crime.

“Operation K-9” runs 4:30-8 p.m. Thursday at the AMSOIL Center, 1101 Susquehannah Ave., Superior.

The Northland Law Enforcement K-9 Foundation formed last year to raise money for the K-9 programs for sheriff’s department in Douglas and St. Louis counties, and police departments in Duluth and Superior.

With a single command from their human partners, these dogs chase down criminals, rescue missing children and vulnerable adults, track suspects and find hidden, illegal drugs. Specially trained, these incredible animals are an invaluable asset in protecting the public.

“K-9s help us work more effectively, and they save lives,” said Superior Deputy Chief Nick Alexander. “But they are not cheap to purchase and train, and as governments are constantly trying to find ways to trim costs, we appreciate all the help we can get from the public to support our K-9 programs.”

According to the Foundation’s website: “There are many costs involved in purchasing, training and properly equipping a K-9 unit. Many of our dogs are specially-bred in Europe, so the first major cost is to purchase and transport the K-9 to our department. These dogs and their handlers must continually train to perform their best.” The site says specialized equipment also is needed, ranging from kennels and bulletproof vests to collars equipped with GPS tracking. Then there are veterinarian bills, food costs, and the list goes on.

“The foundation is doing great and this event is our big public launch,” Alexander said. “AMSOIL Founder Al Amatuzio has always been a generous supporter of local K-9 units. The idea of the foundation was born with this support.”

The idea is to create a nonprofit with the purpose of supporting all the local K-9s.

“Various cash and in-kind donations from local businesses and citizens are a tremendous help,” Alexander said. “All donations — big and small — are greatly appreciated and serve to help a worthy cause.”

Imagine your child is missing, you have been the victim of a crime, your neighborhood is harboring criminals, or you and your loved ones are faced with forces negatively impacting your lives. We take our comfortable lives for granted because nothing can ever happen to us — it happens to the other guy.

How wrong we can be.

I cannot say it any better than their website, “K-9s put their lives on the line for their human partners, track felons, search for and rescue lost people, and sniff out drugs, weapons and critical evidence. They work odd hours — often overnight shifts and weekends — in all types of weather. K-9s are invaluable members of our law enforcement teams. These dogs willingly go into situations … too dangerous for their human partners. They make officers’ jobs safer, and they help those officers work more efficiently, because with the K-9’s sharp sense of smell, it can detect suspects and evidence much more quickly than a person ever could.”

Alexander encourages all to come and enjoy the festivities at the AMSOIL Center. “Operation K-9,” which gives people a chance to meet the dogs and their human partners, watch K-9 demonstrations and see law enforcement vehicles up close, also provides family-friendly activities. Demonstrations include obedience, agility and an arrest of a fleeing “suspect.”

Food and beverages are also available to purchase.

Food and items sold during the event benefit the foundation.

In the event of bad weather, all activities move inside AMSOIL’s large warehouse.

AMSOIL Inc., AVR, Benna Ford, Cathedral School, Doucette’s Party Rental, Hunt Electric, Jeff Frey and Associates, Service Printers, the Optimist Clubs of Duluth and Superior, Dinehery Fence and Ironworks, Dougherty Veterinary Clinics and Lake City Towing sponsor Operation K-9.

For information about the foundation, or how you can help, visit www.northlandk9.org.

Every worthy cause — and this certainly qualifies — needs help from “we the people.”

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