Pismo raises funds to get dog for K-9 unit

For the past six months, Pismo Beach Police Chief Jeff Norton has managed fundraisers with a goal of bringing a police dog back to the department.

“I wanted to get the program going again,” Norton said. “But I knew the city couldn’t fund it, so the city council said to go ahead if I could raise all the money privately.”

More than $30,000 has been raised — about $8,000 more than the departments’ initial goal — including a $15,000 donation from the producer of the annual Pismo Beach Classic Car Show.

It will cost about $8,500 to purchase the German shepherd, about $5,000 for an initial five-week academy, $4,000 for a four-week narcotics training program, and $1,200 a year for monthly training.

Les Davidson, CEO of Just Cruzin’ Productions, said a third of the money raised at two additional auctions this year will also be donated to the police department’s program.

The goal is to have the police dog in time to enroll it in an academy that starts Aug. 2 in Ventura, Norton said, and have it on patrol in the fall.

The city hasn’t had a police dog — known officially as a K-9 unit — since 2004, when police dog Dido retired. Before his service, another dog, Landros, served the city for about six years and retired in 2002.

“I’m a strong believer in the K-9s,” Norton said. “For small police departments like us, I think they are a tremendous resource.”

The dog can assist officers with crowd control, detecting narcotics and during searches, and provides officer protection.

The department’s new member will live with his handler, police officer Trevor Blevins, who has worked for the department for several years and is currently assigned to patrol.

Norton now plans to scale back on fundraising but may still hold an annual event to make sure the department has enough money to care for and train the dog.