With the help of Paws in Blue, a Jonesborough non-profit established last year to help raise funds to help the town’s department buy new police K-9s, Jonesborough was able to add Nero to its stable.
Nero, whose first day on the job will be Friday, will work alongside his partner, K-9 officer Tammy Ray, as well as the department’s two other dogs, Cygan and Loki. Nero is trained in narcotics detection and apprehension.
“We’re very pleased with the support that we have in the community here,” Jonesborough Police Chief Ron Street said of the community raising funds for Nero. “That shows that they’re behind the Jonesborough Police Department and they believe in what we’re trying to do.”
At the party, Ray was all smiles as Nero — and Loki, who was also present — chowed down on dog treats and enjoyed the attention from the roughly two dozen people in attendance.
“I’m very proud,” Ray said of officially becoming a K-9 officer. “I was proud anyway working with the Jonesborough Police Department, but this makes me even prouder.”
“We wouldn’t have anything without the support of the Town of Jonesborough, I couldn’t ask for a better town than Jonesborough, I really couldn’t,” she said.
As part of the training process, Ray and Nero spent six weeks training together in Michigan.
It didn’t get off to the smoothest start.
“He bit me,” Ray said of her first meeting with Nero on April 15th. “If you don’t keep him going he’ll want to jump and want to snip, but we got that straightened out.”
According to Paws in Blue director Ruth Verhegge, Nero cost about $17,500, including the purchase of the pup, which cost $13,000 to $15,000, the six-week stay in Michigan for the officer and the outfitting of a police cruiser to accommodate a K-9.
“It’s the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done,” Verhegge said. “The response of this community to this effort to support our department of public safety is just wonderful.”
Verhegge estimated it will cost $3,000 per dog annually for supplies, vet bills and other needed equipment.
Street said the department’s goal is to have four fully trained police dogs with the department in order to have one dog working or available each shift and ready to step up should one K-9, like Loki, an 8-year-old Labrador, retire.
“The whole purpose of it is to try to keep the community safe, try to keep Jonesborough and the residents of Jonesborough and the people who come through Jonesborough as a safe environment for them to come enjoy,” Street said.
Paws in Blue will host its second annual fundraiser June 15th at 10 a.m. at Jonesborough Middle School, where they will have a regional K-9 competition and demonstration.