GRANT COUNTY, Wash. -Man's best friend is one of the best tools for the Grant County Sheriff's Office, which has a K-9 unit consisting of four pairs of dogs and deputies.
"They've been an incredible asset - not only catching criminals," Kyle Forman, the department's public information officer, said.
One of the units include Deputy Dave De La Rosa and his K-9, Grizzly. Forman recalled a case from this year, where Grizzly saved a man's life.
"Grizzly and him (De La Rosa) found a lost man who had some severe medical conditions this past winter. They were able to track him and definitely saved his life. Otherwise, he would've died from exposure," Forman said.
Both Grizzly and De La Rosa were honored by the Red Cross after the incident and deemed "Hometown Heroes" by the organization.
However, these heroes (and their peers) are facing a big problem: funding.
De La Rosa said Grizzly and another K-9 (Chicka) recently required dental work, which cost thousands of dollars. They were able to pay for the procedure through funding they had... Funding that comes directly from donations, nothing else.
"Vet bills that are coming with Chicka and Grizzly is probably going to eat up all the money we have saved up for medical expenses," De La Rosa said.
Forman said the K-9 unit had been cancelled years ago due to a lack of funding, but recently resurrected after receiving many donations. Since the K-9 unit started back up several years ago, the four deputies/dog handlers have been responsible for fundraising and taking care of the dogs.
"All the deputies who are canine handlers work together collectively for all the other dogs, so it's a great team effort," Forman said.
Funding for the four dogs comes from the same, single pool of funds - a pool that's been drained since Grizzly and Chicka had root canals and teeth implantations.
"I don't think anyone really realizes the value, both at the sheriff's office and in the community... realize the value of what these dogs can do until we put them on the street: how many criminals they've been able to apprehend, how many lives they've been able to save, how many instances that could've gone sideways that were quickly diffused just by the presence of a K-9," Forman said.
To donate to the Grant County Sheriff's Office K-9 Unit, head over to their website by clicking here.