MADISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio – It’s been over a decade since the Madison Township Police Department has used a K-9 unit. But one officer is working to bring it back thanks to a combination of fundraising and calling on an old partner.
Ptl. Eric Sharp recently transferred from the Fairport Harbor Police Department, where he and his K-9 partner Sid served for several years, until Sid retired from duty to live with Sharp.
“Inseparable — every time I still go to work now, he still runs to the door thinking that he’s going to go to work. But unfortunately, I’ve had to leave him behind for the last year,” Sharp said.
Madison Township is the largest township in Ohio by area. Sharp said it could really use a K-9 at its disposal since it’s such a large area. But the cost to start a program from scratch is very expensive, estimated somewhere in the ballpark of $70,000.
Now, Sharp wants to bring Sid — who’s still only 5 years old — out of early retirement.
“Having a dog will help deter people from wanting to commit crime in the area where a dog is at,” he said. “He’s a dual-purpose K-9, so we can do narcotics and patrol, building searches, tracking. He could also do tracking without bites for elderly people or missing children who walked away.”
Having a trained K-9 that’s itching to return to work gave Sharp the idea to start a fundraiser to restart the unit.
“We are a levy-based police department, so we can’t really allocate funds from the budget for the K-9 at this moment,” Sharp said. “So we’re asking for all of the budget to run the programs all through donations.”
The fundraiser has been active for about a month, and the local community is already contributing in a major way. Sharp said Standing Rock Farms, several VFWs, Madison Kiwanis, DB Marine and the Painesville Credit Union have all made contributions. Three local businesses are holding fundraisers as well.
Sharp said they’re very close to hitting their initial minimum fundraising amount of $14,000 to $15,000, but with the costs recurring annually, every dollar raised will count toward keeping the program running for years to come, including the eventual cost of finding a replacement K-9 for Sid, when he retires in a few years.
“We’re hoping that we can get at least two to four years more out of him,” Sharp said.
The donations will cover the cost to outfit a retired detective’s SUV into a K-9 cruiser but will also pay for veterinary care and other general expenses.
Donations by check are being accepted at the Madison Township Police Department in person or by mail to 2065 Hubbard Road, Madison, OH 44057.
Soon, with enough help from the community, Sid and Sharp will be back in action keeping the community safe.
“There’ll be days where I go to work and my wife will text and say, ‘He needs to go back to work,’” Sharp said. “’He’s been howling at the door for about an hour, and he just won’t stop.’ So, he’s ready to go. I’m ready to go. Our department is excited to have him, and I hope the community is excited to have him.”
Sharp projects the duo will be back in service sometime near the start of 2024.