SEBRING - The generosity of the community the last 15 years has made it possible for the Sebring Police Department to fund its K-9 program without taxpayer money.
Police officials gathered Wednesday to thank some of these benefactors - individuals, businesses and civic groups - and one of those who joined the gathering was the city's newest K-9 dog, Beemer, who is now on patrol after being recently certified, and his handler John Garrison.
Sebring started its K-9 program 15 years ago and since then it has "always existed solely on community donations," explained Police Chief Tom Dettman.
When funds started running low, the police department started calling upon its "longest-standing community partners" to help bolster the program.
Dettman, who said he wanted to shoot high, set a $7,500 goal for the fund, which pays for the care and maintenance of the police dog.
Tuesday, a member of the city's code enforcement board who Dettman didn't name, donated the remaining $967 the fund needed to reach the target amount.
In a press release, the police department thanked resident Debra Graves, attorney Steve Brown, the American Legion Post 74 and their Sons of the American Legion and the auxiliary, American Veterans Post 21, VFW Post 4300 and the VFW men's auxiliary, Alan Jay Automotive Network, Heacock Insurance Group, the estate of Carl Mohr and Mary Palmer and various anonymous citizens.
Those gathered learned a little bit more about Beemer, a Czech native who Garrison initially got as a house pet and is now on lease with the city as a police dog for $1.
Beemer, it turns out, "speaks three languages: English, Czech and police," Dettman grinned.
Not quite 2 years old yet, he is also a "real smart" dog, Dettman bragged, and has the same certifications as his predecessor "J.R.," who retired this year because of medical reasons.
Beemer completed "intensive training" at the University of Central Florida and passed "with flying colors," a news release states. He is a full-service dog.
"This dog is so smart it is ridiculous," Dettman quipped.