A Columbia County business owner earned a public and personal thank you Thursday from Sheriff Clay Whittle.
"It isn't every day that we have people like Mr. Fuller, who knows about a need and pitches in to help," Whittle said as he shook hands with George Fuller III, who recently donated $20,000 to purchase two new dogs for the sheriff's office canine unit.
The sheriff's office recently retired four dogs from the unit because of age or illness. Two new dogs - Robbie, a 2-year-old Dutch shepherd, and Boz, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois - were purchased with seized drug money and hit the streets before the end of 2006.
Two dogs wasn't enough, though. Whittle said it takes four dogs to have a full canine unit, which searches for drugs at traffic stops, conducts searches of school lockers and sniffs out drugs.
Fuller, the owner of Four Seasons Landscaping, said he was spurred to call the sheriff's office to see what needs they had after noticing a large number of police cars outside the Greenbrier school complex, which his three daughters attend.
Whittle told Fuller two new dogs for the canine unit were needed for drug searches at schools and other locations.
"I figured that (the price of the dogs) was going to be a show-stopper. It wasn't a show-stopper," Whittle said. "I think it is more of the fact that he's a good dad, was concerned about his children growing up in this county."
With Fuller's donation, the sheriff's office purchased Renzo, a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois, and Rex, a 2-year-old German shepherd, in early January from Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Ind.
All four of the canine unit dogs are trained in tracking, article searches, apprehension, handler protection, narcotics detection, and building clearing and searching.
Handlers train with the dogs in Indiana for two weeks. Upon their return, the new partners spend nearly two months training under Sgt. Roy Putnam, a former Army kennel master and Robbie's handler.
Renzo and Rex are still in training, and Whittle said he expects they will be put into service soon.
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