LIMA — Lima City School announced Wednesday the implementation of a K-9 program during the upcoming school year.
“We think that with this K-9 program we can really enhance the safety of our buildings, as well as do things to help our kids to help our kids in their growth as far as reading and also be a calming effects for some of our kids,” said Lima schools Director of Safety and Security Nathan Garlock.
The idea of having K-9 units present in Lima schools had been a vision for the future when the School Resource Officer program was first implemented, said Lima Superintendent Jill Ackerman. This year, when the Federal Title IV grant money was made available, it was decided this upcoming school year was a good time to implement the program, especially since four resource officers had expressed interest in being partnered with a K-9.
Ackerman said the grant money only provided enough funding to purchase three of the four intended dogs. The school district is looking for businesses, organizations and individuals interested in donating and supporting the program so the fourth dog can be purchased. Big R Stores, Ed Pro, Inc. and Peacock Water have committed to assist the district’s K-9 program.
Garlock said the dogs will have two roles in the schools. They will be used to find narcotics and gunpowder in the schools and they’ll also act as therapy dogs, helping calm stressed students and students in special education programs.
So far, the school district has two dogs assigned to officers. School Resource Officer Scott Jones has been assigned a male Golden Retriever. School Resource Officer Amanda Leugers has been assigned a female black Labrador.
“We’re going to be doing a six-week program,” said SRO Anthony Wolrey. “We’re going to be starting with basic obedience. Most of the dogs we are getting don’t have a lot of experience in basic obedience. After that, we’re going to start with narcotics.”
The four K-9 resource officers will be training the dogs themselves. After learning obedience and how to find narcotics they will learn to find gunpowder. After that training, the dogs will go through some training in providing therapy for children, he said. The dogs are intended to not just be tools but a part of the community. Wolrey said the dogs will be with the officers all day, every day.
On Wednesday, the community can post name suggestions on the Lima schools Facebook page. The top names will be chosen Thursday and voted on by the community. The final names will be announced Friday afternoon.
“We want the community to have a feeling of ownership with the dogs, so we are letting them choose the names,” Garlock said.
Reach Bryan Reynolds at 567-242-0362.