Rallying for Ray: Group raises money for new K-9 unit

A group of citizens is turning the tables on the Houston County Sheriff’s Department by coming to the rescue. They’ve started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for a new K-9 unit after tragedy struck this fall.

“It was a devastating blow to the entire department,” said Houston County Sheriff Mark Inglett.

K-9 Ray was off-duty and at his handler’s home on Nov. 15, 2017.

“He somehow got out and got down near the highway and was unfortunately struck by a motor vehicle and killed,” Inglett said.

The driver of that vehicle drove off and was never identified. Ray had just started working on narcotics detection and tracking weeks prior, so it was a horrible loss.

“We had retired our previous K-9, and this dog had huge potential,” Inglett said.

His handler, Lt. Trace Erickson brought back Chance from retirement, but the Houston County K-9 Foundation wanted to find a fresh pair of paws for the position.

“A lot of people think that there’s all this government or tax money to support the K-9 unit, and it’s not there,” said Josh Blake Johnson, a board member of the Houston County K-9 Foundation.

Through a GoFundMe fundraiser, the citizen-run group is looking to raise $9,000 to pay for a new dog. Now, just over a month into the fundraiser, the group has raised $2,545.

“And so there’s a lot of training that he has to pay for– food, vet bills, you name it. And that’s what this helps support,” Johnson said.

That expense would normally be paid for by the handler himself, and since they anticipate even more costs, every penny counts.

“To get initially set up, it’s probably going to cost between $10,000 to $20,000,” Johnson said.

While no amount of money can bring Ray back, the Sheriff’s Department is grateful for the campaign and is ready to take a chance on a new pup.

“We’re going to move forward now and get back on track with another new dog,” Inglett said.

More information on how to donate can be found on the GoFundMe page.