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Village board backs fundraising for facility dog in Ashwaubenon schools

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

ASHWAUBENON – The village board passed a motion Tuesday, June 23, to authorize fundraising to pay for a facility therapy dog for a school resource officer assigned to the Ashwaubenon School District.

Board members heard from Director of Public Safety Brian Uhl and School Resource Officer Jeff Everetts, who provided an update on the program the village and school district previously authorized to help deal with emotional and behavioral issues of some students.

The village has applied for a dog through Canine Companions for Independence, a company which trains facility therapy dogs for police departments that go through a selection process.

Uhl said Everetts will not need a special vehicle for a facility therapy dog, for which an inexpensive platform could be built in the current SRO vehicle.

“It doesn’t have to be the same type of cage, the same type of setting as the K9 would have,” Uhl said.

According to figures he presented to the board, the majority of the $13,775 in start-up costs for the program will be $12,000 for the handler/dog fee and $1,200 to cover two weeks of on-site training.

Though the village and school district have agreed to split the annual operational costs of close to $6,000, Uhl said those costs could possibly be covered by fundraising as well.

“We’d like to have the dog in place for the beginning of the school year,” he said.

Finance Director Greg Wenholz said the village’s budget could be “very interesting” for the next three years, so he cautioned the board about “adding anything into a future budget without getting through the first one.”

“If you can lock down guarantees with donated funds for the next five-year period, that would be great, but we’re looking at some severe potential cuts from the state, potentially from property evaluations and things like that,” he said.

Everetts said he raised $10,000 so far for the facility therapy dog program.

“It’s going to be $13,775 for the purchase of the animal, the training and all the equipment for it, and then the $5,860 will be a year’s worth of operating expenses,” he said. “My goal is to raise both of those combined.”

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