MPD K9 golf tournament is no bogey

Marshall Police Chief Mike Donnell lines up his putt during a golf tournament to raise funds for the department to purchase a K9 unit Monday, July 17. Eighteen teams participated in the tournament, helping to grow closer to the $11,100 fundraising goal.

Arron Hustead/Democrat-News

As golf balls drew closer to the intended location, so too did the Marshall Police Department grow closer to its fundraising goal for a new K9 unit.

A total of 18 teams, ranging in size from two to four players, participated in Marshall’s first Playing in the Ruff Charity Golf Tournament at Indian Foothills Park Monday, July 17. All funds raised in the tournament went toward the department’s $11,100 goal, which will cover the cost of purchasing and training the dog, as well as training the department’s K9 Officer Joey Valiquette with his new four-legged partner.

Monday morning, Valiquette said that goal was “very, very close” to being met and he expected all the needed funds to be raised by the time everyone left the course that day. Later in the day, the department announced the goal had been exceeded and more than $14,000 had been raised.

The department has been without a K9 for more than a year and a half, since the previous dog retired. In addition to locating narcotics, the department’s new K9 is expected to be trained in tracking missing persons, apprehension of those involved in criminal activity that attempt to flee, and the location of weapons or contraband discarded by subjects during a pursuit.

Going to the Dogs, who partnered with the department in organizing the event, is a nonprofit organization established in 2015 that benefits K9 units in Missouri and Kansas, primarily by providing protective vests that are both bullet proof and stab proof. Valiquette noted that the K9 vests the organization provides are even more effective than those worn by human officers, which are only bullet proof.

In addition to the tournament, Marshall business sponsors contributed a grill for lunch to be prepared on, as well as items to be raffled or auctioned off to help meet the fundraising goal.

“I can’t say how impressed I am with the sponsorships,” Going to the Dogs Founder and Executive Director Donna Leimkuehler Wilson said, also that this was the best turnout she had witnessed for a tournament the organization has been a part of. “The town has really rallied around this.”

An example of the K9 vests Going to the Dogs provides, which is both bullet proof and stab proof.

Arron Hustead/Democrat-News

Wilson outlined the organization’s goals as including four P’s — to aid with the Purchase of K9 units, to Protect the K9s with bullet proof and stab proof vests, to create a Pension or stipend to help retire the dogs, and to Praise and celebrate the K9s.

All funds raised during the event will be put to use in the Marshall community, Wilson said. Once the department’s new K9 is purchased and trained, she said Going to the Dogs plans to provide its protective vest.

In 2016 and 2017, Wilson said the organization had provided vests to 15 dogs, including five of the 10 active units working for the Missouri State Highway Patrol. The first of the MSHP K9s to receive a vest was Jampy from Troop A, which serves Saline and 12 other counties.

Contact Arron Hustead at ahustead@marshallnews.com

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