Oxford-area event supports Blue Line K9 Project

COLLEGE CORNER — Police K9 units from around the region, including Oxford, were on hand to promote a fundraiser for the Blue Line K9 Project which helps law enforcement departments with the costs of having a dog available for a variety of services.

The non-profit is currently working to raise $2,800 for a custom-fit protective vest for K9 Astro of the Franklin County (Ind.) Sheriff’s Department. Blue Line K9 Project founder Jill Cutter said they always look for such causes, so they are constantly in a fundraising mode to help various K9 units around the area.

Astro and his handler, Sgt. Adam Henson, are still in training together and this will be Henson’s third K9 partner. He said the first one was retired and the second one died. Astro is being trained for a variety of duties, including searching for articles, chases, tracking and assisting in the serving of search warrants, among others.

“We may be chasing a criminal who throws something — maybe a gun or drugs — and the dog will go look for evidence,” Henson said.

Training for the dogs and handlers is a 12- to 14-week effort, depending on which training school they attend.

The July 16 fundraiser was based at the Scrappy Galore Boutique in College Corner, hosted by the store’s owners, twin sisters Tammy Werner and Tracy Cole.

Cutter was on hand with her dog, K9 Kudo, a Dutch Shepherd retired from Colerain Twp.

According to the K9 Project web site, Kudo is credited with taking hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of illegal drugs off the streets, locating missing people and finding critical pieces of evidence used in the commission of crimes. Kudo was retired through no fault of his own after nearly four years of service. His handler, Brian, purchased Kudo and was assigned a new dual-purpose K9 partner. Two male working dogs did not work out well together and Kudo spent too much time in his kennel due to the handler’s work schedule.

Cutter is a court reporter for the Hamilton County Courts and founded the Blue Line K9 Project in 2019.

The group’s website explains in her profession, she hears court cases all day long — many involving the work of police K9s. She became invested in the K9 world in 2016 after learning that K9 Pako, of Springfield Township Police Department, was shot during a criminal track and he was not wearing any ballistic protection. Pako survived, but the incident compelled Cutter to learn more about these dogs and how to help protect them.

She assisted other nonprofit organizations before forming her own nonprofit, helping 130 dogs in the Midwest that way.

“In early 2019, the Cutter family learned of K9 Kudo and Brian’s plight. After home visits, and command training, Kudo was adopted by the Cutters and together they came up with an idea that would keep him active in his retirement, and give Brian and Kudo the ability to see each other,” according to the web site biography.

That allowed Kudo to have a new professional life — as a representative and goodwill ambassador for Blue Line K9 Project.

Visitors to the fundraiser July 16 had a chance to see Kudo at work demonstrating his training.

Williamsburg K9 handler Corey Herren donned the protective sleeve while Cutter gave the commands ordering Kudo to apprehend him. The dog’s grip on Herren’s arm was so strong, the handler was able to spin around in a circle with the dog securely locked onto the protective sleeve until Cutter ordered him to stop and rest on the ground.

Cutter said the project raises money to purchase a variety of items for Police K9s. In addition to the vests, they can also provide training items, even the car kennels where the dogs rest while on patrol with the handlers.

“Things for working dogs are extremely expensive. It costs $2,800 for a custom-fit vest,” Cutter said. Vests are made to fit snugly so they do not slip and hinder the dog’s mobility. “They are ballistic- and stab-proof and are flotation devices if the dog goes into water. They are guaranteed for the life of the dog.”

Oxford’s K9 officer, Roscoe, was at the fundraiser for a time that morning with his handler, Officer Matt Hardin, along with K9 units from other area departments.

The Scrappy Galore Boutique, at 4 Main St. on the Ohio side of College Corner, offers a variety of items, many related to dogs and their business card even says they are “dog friendly.” One of the items they carry is a brand of ground coffee for sale, with $2.50 of each package being donated to the Blue Line K9 Project. The coffee is packaged by The Working Dog Coffee Company and the package includes the local organization’s logo derived from a photo of a dog being spun around off the ground by the handler.

Cutter said she prefers their procedure of helping one department at a time for a needed item and then raising money for a different project.

“I like the personal connection. It penetrates the community,” she said.

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