Members of the WPS K9 Unit spent the afternoon Saturday meeting and greeting members of the public and press at the Petland Store at 2355 McGillivray Blvd raising awareness and soliciting donations for the WPS K9 Unit retirement and vest fund. The international fundraising campaign runs for the entire month of April. All Petland Stores in Winnipeg are participating.
Why give to the K9 Unit?
I’m glad you asked.
Winnipeg Police Service Dog’s (PSD’s) are front line soldiers just like their handlers. These dogs provide support to prime response units in the search for fleeing suspects and often come face to face with extremely dangerous criminals. Police Service Dogs in Winnipeg have been punched, kicked and stabbed by such offenders.
Winnipeg PSD’s are also used in the search for narcotics & explosives, tactical team raids and armed & barricaded situations, building searches, searches for evidence and searches for missing persons.
Since the early 1990’s all PSD’s have been issued ballistic Patrol Vests through the generosity of donations made by private citizens and the business community with assistance from K9 Storm.
These vests are essential as they provide protection for the K9’s from assaults, edged weapon and firearm attacks.
Aside from the purchase of ballistic vests, donations are used to:
- Pay for medical bills, food and dental care for retired canines
- Pay for expenses related to funeral & burial costs for both active and retired canines
- Pay for specialized training & equipment
(One hundred (100%) percent of all donations received will be spent with the best interests of the canines in mind.)
Of interest, the WPS K9 Unit is one of the few Municipal Police Departments in Canada that operates its own in-house breeding program. The program was established largely due to the efforts of Sergeant Dave Bessason who received the Excellence in Law Enforcement Award from the Manitoba Attorney General in 2008 for volunteering literally hundreds of hours to set up the program.
Bessason, a twenty-four (24) year veteran with the WPS, worked in the K9 Unit during the early years of his career with PSD “Buddy,” a Belgian Malinois known for his tenacity and exceptional tracking ability. It was Buddy who sired many of the PSD’s in the K9 Unit. After leaving the Unit Bessason broadened his experience by working in the Major Crime Unit (95-97) and Homicide Unit (05-07) where he developed skills sets that aren’t all that common in K9 Officers.
In 2008 Bessason returned to the squad where he now plays the role of Unit Co-ordinator, Coach, Mentor & PSD trainer.
If you would like to learn more about the WPS K9 Unit, they have an exceptional web site full of interesting facts, history and images. You can find the link here.
All donations are greatly appreciated and are tax deductible.