Emil is paired with first-time K-9 handler Ben Reuschel.
For the third time this year, the Holland Department of Public Safety has added a K-9 officer to its police force.
New K-9 handler Officer Ben Reuschel and K-9 Emil are officially policing the streets of Holland together after going through a month-long training program at Northern Michigan K-9.
Emil and Reuschel join their fellow K-9 teams of Officer Joel Reimink and K-9 Ruthie, Officer Joe Slenk and K-9 Flynn, along with Officer Jeremy Schoen and K-9 Saro.
Having four K-9s on the team has been a long-term dream of Sgt. Scott Doza’s for 16 years. With the addition of Emil and Reuschel, each of the department’s four shifts will have a K-9 on call.
“For the whole department and the community, it means a ton,” Doza told The Sentinel in June. “We’ve been trying for so long, and now finally each platoon can have a dog. We’ve finally reached that goal.”
Doza was one of the two original K-9 handlers when Holland’s K-9 team began in 2001, adding extra meaning to the force’s growth.
“To see it from the start to where it is now, to put this much into your career and to finally get what you’ve been going for, that’s a good day,” Doza said.
While the cost of a new K-9 varies depending on how much training the dog needs, a new K-9 and training averages about $12,500 per dog. The funding for Emil and his training was included in the city’s 2017-18 budget.
In addition, the police department holds an annual golf outing fundraiser to support the K-9 program.
The department is currently asking for help from residents to earn an additional grant to support the K-9 program. Holland police are competing for an annual Aftermath K-9 grant, which can be used to maintain the unit, purchase safety equipment and train officers.
To win the grant, the department is competing with other police forces to get the most votes online at Aftermath.com/k9-grant. Five departments will receive a total of $15,000 and voting opened on Wednesday, Oct. 11.
— Follow this reporter on Twitter @SentinelAudra.