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South Prairie students raise money for Ward County K-9 fund

South Prairie students raise money for K-9 fund

Jill Schramm/MDN Ward County Sheriff Robert Roed holds a check presented by South Prairie second grader Brecken Lick at a Ward County Commission meeting Tuesday for the care and support of the department’s K-9. Lick was top salesman in the school’s pizza fundraiser for the K-9 fund.

Ward County’s K-9 officer will be well supplied with treats and tennis balls, thanks to students and their pizza-eating supporters at South Prairie School.

During Tuesday’s Ward County Commission meeting, South Prairie Principal Delwyn Groninger and students JyliAnne Striha, a sophomore, and Brecken Lick, a second grader, told the story behind the pizza fundraiser and presented a check for $5,471 to the Ward County Sheriff’s Department. Taking all the attention in stride was K-9 Baxi, who attended with his handler Deputy Mike Miller.

Miller had been assigned to South Prairie School during the last school year. Miller had mentioned the county’s interest in getting a dog so Groninger, middle school Principal Darwin Routledge and elementary secretary Nancy Peterson discussed how the school might help by selling pizzas to cover food and equipment costs associated with a K-9.

Striha spoke on behalf of the student body to announce the fundraising total, and Brecken presented the check to Sheriff Robert Roed.

“We definitely appreciate this,” Roed said. “So far, no county money has been spent on the purchase of the dog, the equipment, the training or anything. It’s all been community effort.”

Jill Schramm/MDN Ward County Deputy Mike Miller is joined by his K-9, Baxi, in speaking to the Ward County Commission Tuesday. On the wall in the background is a replica of the county seal, a recent addition to commission chambers.

Roed said the money is expected to go toward medical care, food and tennis balls.

“A lot of tennis balls. He goes through a lot of tennis balls,” Roed said.

Miller said he went through handler training with Baxi from May 11 to June 19 in Indiana, and Baxi’s first deployment was June 24. Since then, Miller and Baxi, a native of Poland who turns two years old on Jan. 14, have logged 112.3 additional training hours.

“Just in the few months that we’ve had him, he’s had 40 total deployments. There’s been 18 arrests attributed to him,” Miller said.

Other K-9 statistics presented by Miller included 55.6 grams of methamphetamine taken off the street, along with 38.5 grams of heroin and a small amount of cocaine. Baxi has been most useful, though, in fentanyl captures. One incident alone netted 618.3 grams of fentanyl, or 21.81 ounces, with a street value over $350,000, Miller said.

“In his short time on the road, he’s doing great work,” he said. “This is a dream come true to just work with a dog every single day.”

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