By Kana Coonce
DE PERE – With the retirement of the De Pere Police Department’s (DPPD) resident canine officer, Kurt, the department is seeking donations to acquire his replacement.
“The K-9 Unit is completely donation-funded, absent the squad car,” said DPPD Field Services Captain Nathan Mrstik, who served as Kurt’s handler before Mrstik’s promotion.
Kurt joined the DPPD in 2016 to replace his predecessor, Elsie.
Now that Kurt is “just short of nine years [old],” Mrstik said that Kurt has earned his retirement. “He’s been around the block quite a few times,” Mrstik said. “It’s time for him to enjoy his final years and just kinda relax.”
On May 10, the DPPD published a statement on Kurt’s retirement, “We thank him for his loyal and valuable service during his award-winning career, including assisting with numerous drug and money seizures that have helped make our community a safer place.”
Along with narcotics intervention, Kurt’s duties also included handler protection and tracking.
The department is currently searching for another German Shepherd similar to Kurt who can conduct his former duties just as effectively.
Mrstik said that having a canine officer in the DPPD is “a huge benefit for the agency” and that the department doesn’t want the city to go without such a resource.
“We were very fortunate that Bark’n Blue gave a donation,” he said, referring to the Green Bay-based non-profit organization whose mission according to its website is “to provide funding and resources for police K-9 units to acquire the best available tools to maintain the highest level of public safety.”
Mrstik estimated that the department still needs about two-thirds of its $60,000 goal to fund Kurt’s replacement, which the DPPD hopes to acquire by fall of this year.
The funds will be split between the purchasing and training of the dog and its assigned officer and the cost of food and care for the remainder of its service.
Donations can be made to De Pere Police Department at 335 S. Broadway, Green Bay.