WAYLAND, Mich. — Gun Lake Casino has donated $4,000 to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department to help cover the cost of K-9 training.
K-9 Lajki, one of the department’s four dogs, is retiring in March because of health issues and two of the other three are due to retire over the next few years because of their own declining health, a news release said Friday.
The donation from Gun Lake Casino will go toward training Allegan County’s 3-year-old German shepherd, Thor, and his new handler, Deputy Scott Vereeke.
Thor’s previous handler, Sgt. Ben Haas, is taking a promotion within the department that will require more time and responsibility.
“Due to some promotions, we had a need for some training dollars that weren’t budgeted,” Allegan County Sheriff Frank Baker said in a statement prepared by Gun Lake Casino. “Gun Lake Casino coming through with this donation at this time is very opportune for us.”
Deputy Vereeke’s five-week training with Thor at Mid-Michigan Police K-9 in Eaton Rapids will take place in late March and will include education in narcotics detection, tracking, building searches, article searches and handler protection.
According to Sheriff Baker, donations from the Gun Lake Tribe and Gun Lake Casino account for 75% of the department’s K-9 unit.
That included partnering to purchase two K-9s back in 2011 and 2019, when Thor was purchased.
“Our relationship with Gun Lake Casino and the Gun Lake Tribe has been going on since the casino opened,” Sheriff Baker said. “We couldn’t be more thankful for this donation to keep our K-9 unit operating."