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SLO County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Andrew Mora poses with K-9 Unit partner Mando on Feb. 15, 2024. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – A fundraiser is scheduled for next month to help financially support the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit.

“As with any agency with the county, it costs money,” said Tony Cipolla, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer. “The canine unit also has specific costs that are associated with that unit, and those costs keep increasing every year, so that’s why we decided to have this fundraiser to raise some much needed funds for the K-9 unit.”

The fundraiser will be Greengate Ranch and Vineyard on Saturday, March 9, and will include a BBQ dinner, along with beer and wine. Guests will also watch K-9 demonstrations, as well as potentially win silent auction items and prizes.

“Our whole unit will be there,” said Deputy Andrew Mora, who works alongside his K-9 partner Mando. “All of the money will be processed through the Sheriff’s Advisory Foundation, which is a nonprofit. We have a fund allocated to us within there, so all those proceeds will go right to that K-9 fund in the Sheriff’s Advisory Foundation, and then we can request that money should extra needs arise to support the dogs or the handlers.”

The K-9 unit currently has six dogs and is planning to add another one in the near future, continuing a significant growth in the program over the past several years.

“When Sheriff (Ian) Parkinson first became Sheriff, we had one K-9,” said Cipolla. “He’s been here 13 years. Since that time, we have increased it to six K-9’s, soon to be a seven, so it really is an important resource for the Sheriff’s Office and for the community at large.”

A point that Mora, who has worked with Mando, a three-year-old Dutch Shepard for a year-and-a-half, also backs up.

“K-9’s are a vital role in law enforcement,” said Mora. “They really add to the community safety, primarily what dogs are used for in law enforcement is their use as a locating tool. They have their noses is what makes them so effective for us. The olfactories in their noses are millions of times stronger than ours, so we’re using the dogs to locate things, whether that’s their target odors, whether it’s explosives at schools, libraries, courthouses, narcotics, firearms, or potentially people lost people for search and rescue applications, or if someone’s hiding in a dangerous place where a deputy or an officer can’t go in there safely, we will use the dog as a tool to locate that person.”

With six dogs in the unit, and a seventh on the way, the cost to maintain the program does require significant financial support.

“The upkeep of the program is expensive,” said Mora. “Police dogs take a lot of training to get a quality dog. It’s in the tens of thousands of dollars, and then to upkeep the health and the equipment and training for the deputies and the dogs. This is kind of a proactive approach to that. If there are some needs that arise that are not budgeted ,or maybe were cut, we’d like to have money available to us so that we can keep the program as the best in the county and keep the community safe.”

Tickets for the dinner are $100 individually, while a table for eight costs $800. The deadline to purchase tickets is March 1, and all guests must be at least 21-years-old.

For more information about the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Dinner, click here.

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