Police seek more funding for K-9 medical treatment

by Benjamin Farniok

Minneapolis police are looking for more funding for police dogs after using up original allocations by paying for their medical expenses. The Minneapolis Police Department is asking for $10,000 for reimbursement from the City Council to pay the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine for extra Canine Unit treatment costs. Though the dogs receive the same immunizations and treatment as domestic animals, their expensive training gives the city incentive to pay more for veterinary care. MPD is requesting extra funding after police dogs-in-training failed out of the program, and new K-9 dogs needed the proper immunizations and treatment required before beginning their work, Public Information Officer John Elder said. The additional $10,000 will cover the extra veterinary costs over the past fiscal year and put the total funding for veterinary care at more than $32,000. Police dogs must go through a 12-week training course to learn obedience, agility, searching and tracking before working side-by-side with an officer. The animals are retired when they reach 9 or 10 years old, according to the Minneapolis Police Canine Foundation, a non-profit that purchases dogs for MPD. Kristi Flynn, a University veterinarian who treats police animals, said each dog is immunized and provided care when injured, just like domestic dogs. Since the dogs are so expensive and receive intense training, the city is usually willing to pay for their care, she said. âÄúThese animals are worth thousands of dollars to the city,âÄù Flynn said. âÄúThey do really valuable work.âÄù The K-9 foundation estimates the cost of a new K-9 recruit is around $6,800. Flynn said the dogsâÄô work can lead to long-term ailments, which can lead to costly treatments. She said she hasnâÄôt noticed an increase in Minneapolis police dogs coming to the hospital for care. The veterinarians accept dogs from K-9 units across the metro area. There are 13 officers in the unit, each working with one K-9 partner. Ward 2 City Councilman Cam Gordon, who sits on the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Emergency Management committee that approved the proposal, said continuing to foster the relationship between MPD and the University helps keep the dogs healthy, and he said he hopes the relationship will continue into the future. The proposal passed through the Ways and Means Committee Monday and the full City Council will vote on Friday. City officials expect the motion to pass.