Commentary: Here's why Eddy, our canine deputy, is important to Cook County
Jan 07, 2019 04:13PM
By Jim Boyd of The Cook County Chamber of Commerce - January 7, 2019
The Cook County Chamber of Commerce Foundation is raising funds to support the Cook County K9 Eddy Project. Eddy is the police dog now working with the Cook County Sheriff's Office to keep county residents and visitors safe. Eddy's handler is deputy Paul Spry.
Our current fundraising effort seeks $5,000 to fund the agility course critical to keeping Eddy in tip-top shape and his training razor sharp. We've raised about $1,500
Two questions get asked regularly about the K9 Eddy Project:
1. Do we really need a police dog here, in this rural, low-crime area?
2. Why are funds to meet Eddy’s expenses being raised by donation instead of coming from the regular Sheriff’s Office budget?
Those are excellent questions. Let’s take them in order:
1. A police dog can be just as valuable to a small, rural police force like the Cook County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) as to a larger urban force. Because the CCSO staff of sworn officers is so small, it often is stretched very thin, especially during the summer when our population on any given day is closer to 20,000 than to the 5,200 permanent population. Many times, just two sworn deputies are available to patrol this entire, sprawling county, though more are available in an emergency.
Just how much of a strain our small number of law-enforcement professionals bear can be hard to grasp because the public is shielded from the difficult work they do and the difficult people they encounter.
Relieving the strain by adding personnel to the force of sworn officers is expensive and difficult. Adding a dog is much less costly, and it brings the benefit of special capabilities that human deputies do not have. Most important is Eddy’s keen (and well trained) sense of smell.
How keen is it? A PBS Nova program on the topic said estimates for canine smelling power range from 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than ours. From the Nova report: “What do dogs have that we don't? For one thing, they possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about 6 million in us. And the part of a dog's brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is, proportionally speaking, 40 times greater than ours.”
Eddy’s tracking ability can be compared to a fire truck, in the sense that you may not need it every day, but when you do, it must be available and prepared. We have fire vehicles costing north of $200,000 each sitting in fire halls of our nine Cook County volunteer fire departments. Most of those vehicles will respond to less than a half dozen fires and other emergencies each year. Yet we buy them and take extraordinary care of them so they can help us protect human life and property when an emergency occurs.
Deputy Eddy’s tracking ability is the same: If someone goes missing, or seeks to evade capture, in our isolated, rugged terrain, having Eddy and his nose available is the equivalent of having 10 or more additional human searchers. His faster, immensely more robust detection and tracking abilities can help keep human searchers safe and can quite literally mean the difference between life and death for someone who is lost.
Eddy’s value goes far beyond tracking, however. Just the idea that Eddy and his nose are available can have an important psychological impact, deterring all sorts of illegal behavior and thus enhancing the health and safety of our community. Eddy’s presence also can help avoid violent confrontation between Cook County deputies and someone hell bent on fighting with them. The mere presence of a dog often takes the fight out of a belligerent.
2. For reasons that appear lost in history, a tradition developed across the United States of paying for as many K9 expenses as possible with donations instead of tax dollars. Apparently, the costs of securing, training, feeding and housing a police dog were originally considered “extras,” and that required they be paid for off-budget. That approach caught on and remains the norm – partly because several national non-profits have created robust programs for soliciting donations for K9 programs. The National Police Dog Foundation says simply that, “Many police agencies do not have a budget for police dogs, so they are purchased by public and/or corporate donations. Agencies may also need donations to pay for the dog’s training, as well as veterinary bills, daily food and training equipment.”
When the Cook County Sheriff’s Office made the decision to invest in a K9 program, it seemed reasonable to go with the established tradition and support Eddy to the extent possible through private donations. Because the Sheriff’s Office is not a 501c3 capable of receiving tax-deductible donations, the Cook County Chamber Foundation agreed to take on the Eddy fundraising task as a community service. By keeping this in Cook County, far more of the dollars donated actually go to support Eddy.
If you haven’t made a donation, please give it consideration. You can send a check to CC Chamber Foundation, P.O. Box 805, Grand Marais, MN, 55604. Or you can go to our Facebook page and donate there. It is perfectly safe. Just click on this link: http://tinyurl.com/yajvmwlq
Or you can go to our website and contribute via Paypal, also a very safe way to go. If you have a Paypal account, use that. If not, Paypal will process payment using your credit card. To get to the right page, click on this link: http://cookcountychamber.org/support_eddy__our_canine_protector
It would help a great deal if you would pass this email along to others you think might like to hear about Eddy and our fundraising effort.