paws for a cause

Alpha Phi Sigma 4th Annual ‘Paws for a Cause’ Event

The Criminal Justice Honor Society, Alpha Phi Sigma (APS), held its 4th annual Paws for a Cause Fundraiser to aid the Monmouth County K-9 Unit in purchasing bullet proof vests for their dogs in Anacon Hall on Feb. 18.

‘Paws for a Cause’ has raised over $2,000 for the protection of the dogs of the Monmouth County K-9 unit. This year broke records by raising over $1,000, thanks to a generous donation from Dr. Kathryn Fleming of the School of Nursing, who donated over $600. Each vest costs around $850. 

The fundraiser opened with a video that gave a brief overview of K-9 units in Monmouth County. 

After opening remarks by Lt. Collins, Sheriff’s Officer (S/O), Fay and his partner bomb K-9 Falco held a brief question and answer section about the dogs, their lives, and their training. Following this, several dogs gave demonstrations of their work. 

Edge, a patrol K-9 also in training for Narcotics, and his partner S/O Lasko, opened the demonstrations by showing off the obedience training that most K-9 units go through. 

S/O Jelks and Cida demonstrated the work of bomb K-9s by finding a sample of explosives.

A similar demonstration was given for Narcotics by S/O Mindo and Tango. Tango found a narcotics sample hidden in a trash can. 

Finally, S/O Aretino and Ari gave a patrol demonstration. Ari showed off a recall, where he started to pursue a suspect, but on command, returned to Officer Aretino’s side. He demonstrated a pursuit by biting and holding onto a special glove worn by Officer Lasko for the demonstration. 

Though they did not offer a demonstration, S/O Kroper and his K-9s Iowa, in training for Narcotics, and Skye, a bloodhound used for man-trailing, gave a brief discussion of the kind of work they do. 

Concluding the event was a second question and answer session the audience was invited to meet and pet the dogs and converse with the officers. A small display of photos of members of the K-9 unit was also available for viewing. 

Reactions to the event were positive among officers, students, and APS members. Jennifer Broman, a senior English major, commented on how the event made the dangers that the dogs face everyday real to her. “I was impressed by the severity of what the dogs do. Especially when the bloodhound came right from a burglary, that was a reality check,” said Broman.

Sheriff Shaun Golden also commented on the success of the event. “The 4th Annual Paws for a Cause Event proved to be a success and we are grateful to the members of Alpha Phi Sigma for their dedication to this cause. Our K-9 teams deal in suspect apprehension and can be placed in harm’s way. That’s why it’s crucial they are protected while maintaining public safety,” he said.

Paws for a Cause brought to light what goes into the life and training of a K-9 dog. The dogs and their handlers go through a 14 week course where the dogs are given a white towel as a toy that they are trained to associate with their work. 

For bombs and narcotics dogs, towels are used to teach them the scents they need to know for their work. When a dog successfully completes a task in training or in their careers, their handler will bring out their towel and play tug of war with them, letting the dog win. 

Paws for a Cause began four years ago, when then-President of Alpha Phi Sigma, Catherine Jones, a current graduate student, wanted to do something important to generate awareness for APS. 

“I wanted to make sure that what we did was something that mattered, and not just another bake sale. I had seen my town do fundraisers for vests for cops, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen one for K-9s.”

 It has since grown from just two dogs to almost the entire Monmouth County K-9 unit. 

The central mission is about protecting the dogs, as Dr. Michelle Grillo, assistant criminal justice professor, described. “The biggest issue in general is bringing awareness to the community that the dogs are sworn officers, facing the line of fire like officers, so we want to make sure the dogs have what they need to their jobs and be safe,” she explained.

Donations can still be made at MH-1 in the lower level of McAllan Hall, or checks can be made out to Monmouth County Department of Treasury, 2500 Kozloski Rd., Freehold, N.J. 07728.

PHOTO COURTESY of Richard Felicetti