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AMSOIL goes to the dogs

Douglas County Sheriff Department K-9, Talon, poses for a photograph in Judge Kelly Thimm’s courtroom at the Douglas County Courthouse. Talon is one of the dogs featured in the Northland K9 calendar that will be available at the Operation K9 event Thursday at AMSOIL. Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com

It's a chance to meet the newest pups and learn more about the skills that make canines good law enforcement officers.

Within the last year, law enforcement K-9s in the region have helped apprehend armed suspects wanted for serious crimes and to find and rescue missing, vulnerable citizens. They've sniffed out critical evidence that's led to convictions on charges including burglary, assault and drug dealing. They've even helped with security during visits by key figures in the campaign for president.

More than a dozen Northland K9 teams join forces to demonstrate their skills during Operation K-9, which runs 4:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday at AMSOIL Center in Superior, 1101 Susquehanna Ave.

The event will showcase K9 teams from the Duluth, Hermantown and Superior police departments, and St. Louis and Douglas counties sheriff's offices. Even the two newest pups — Superior Police Officer Jeff Harriman with Lacka and Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Cory Fossum with Raptor — are expected to take part.

"K-9s help us do our job more effectively, and they save lives," said Superior Police Chief Nicholas Alexander.

The fourth annual Operation K-9, presented by the AMSOIL Northland Law Enforcement K-9 Foundation, takes place rain or shine. It features K-9 demonstrations and the opportunity to meet the K-9s. There will also be law enforcement vehicles and equipment to tour, plus other family-friendly activities.

The event is free and open to the public, however donations are encouraged. Food and beverages, and K-9 souvenirs will be available to buy with proceeds going to the K-9 Foundation. There will also be a silent auction.

"Just in the last year we've seen several departments, including mine, add a K-9 team, because they do great work," Alexander said. "But they are expensive to purchase and train, and as we are constantly being asked to trim department costs, we appreciate all the help we can get from the public to support our K-9 programs."

New this year, the foundation will be selling calendars featuring the K9s it supports. The 16-month calendars run from September 2017 through December 2018. In addition to pictures of the dogs, the calendars include each dog's paw-print, birthday and a brief write-up. They will be available for $15 at the event and on the foundation's website.

The AMSOIL Northland Law Enforcement K-9 Foundation, a registered non-profit, has helped fund the purchase of seven K-9s in the last three years. AMSOIL founder Al Amatuzio, who died in April, was a driving force behind creating the foundation.

"Al's death was very sad for all," said foundation president Robbin Champaigne. "Al started this foundation because of his love of dogs and support of our communities. As a board, we will continue the work we do in his honor."

For more information on Operation K-9 and the AMSOIL Northland Law Enforcement K-9 Foundation, or to make a donation, visit northlandk9.org or facebook.com/northlandk9.

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