As October comes to an end, so does the 2015 Aftermath K9 Contest. In its fourth year, the contest has undergone a complete makeover, and the excitement is greater than ever. Many readers have caught up with our blog posts and kept an eye on social media, tracking their local department as we narrow down the top contenders for the grand prize. This week, we take a quick look back at previous winners, before revealing the week’s top dogs. Just two days remain in the contest, so get your final votes in and stay tuned for the winning announcement!
Leaders of the Pack
The winner of Aftermath’s 2014 K9 Drawing was Abbey Villwock, an Information Specialist with the Illinois state Kane County Sheriff’s Office, in the Warrant Processing Division. The $5,000 prize complimented another grant received by the agency. The purchase cost of the new K9, a shepherd named Jack, was covered by Spirit Blue Foundation and the Planet Dog Foundation, while the funds from Aftermath covered the cost of a three-week intensive training course for Jack’s handler, who was new to the Division.
The 2013 winner of the K9 Contest was the Essex County Sheriff’s Office in New Jersey. The large department has had a full-time K9 bomb sniffing unit since 1994; experienced handlers regularly train other units throughout the region.
In 2011, Aftermath awarded a similar K9 grant to the Lower Allen Township Police Department in Pennsylvania. The Department used the funds to acquire a K9 named Rocco, a mix of German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois. Between 2005 and 2008, the department saw a 100 percent increase in drug-related arrests, which signaled a need for another K-9 unit on the force. Rocco was finally introduced in 2013 and has been a valuable member of the force ever since.
Changes This Year
This year, Aftermath decided to do something a little different with the K9 Contest in order to illustrate our community mission while still rewarding dedicated members of law enforcement. In the past, winners were pulled at random from the total entries received. While anyone in law enforcement was allowed to vote, only one vote person was permitted. Now, any member of the community can nominate and vote for their local police department; they can also vote every day, and gain extra votes by submitting photos. The winning department may use the $5000 grant to benefit the unit in various ways, including the purchase of safety equipment, additional training, and supplies such as food and veterinary care – all important and costly aspects of maintaining a strong K9 unit.
This Week’s Top Dogs
Despite the heavy costs, K9 units are a vital part of police work. Not only do they save hours of man power, but they save lives, too! Many departments have entered, but a few have stepped out from the pack and taken the lead. The departments with the highest votes as of 10/29 are:
Longmont Police Department (CO), Lake County Sheriff’s Office (IL), Hanover Park Police Department (IL), Holliston Police Department (MA), and Matteson Police Department (IL).
The votes are close, so keep up with the voting!
Create Your Own Happy Tail
Last week, we illustrated the value of dogs like Jack and Rocco. Whether your local police already has a K9 Unit, or they’re hoping to add one soon, the Aftermath K9 Contest can help. Once again, we’re giving away $5000 to one lucky organization, for either the creation or maintenance of a K9 unit. There are just two days left to get in your votes. Just stop by our webpage to fill out the form and enter the name of your local department, then share the link and encourage your friends and neighbors to vote, too! The form is located here.
Don’t delay! The contest ends October 31st, 2015. Click here to view the legal rules and other regulations. One vote per person per day, please! Good luck – and see one of you in the winner’s circle!