By Polly Keary, Editor
A new K9 unit could literally be in the cards for the Monroe Police Department.
A woman who is concerned about the reduced police dog program at the department has created a set of trading cards featuring pictures of Monroe’s police dogs, and hopes to use the cards to raise funds to support K9 services.
Linda Connor, who lives in Sultan but who knows that Monroe police frequently assist in Sultan when a dog is needed, has helped raise money for police dogs before.
While living in Orting, Wash., she suspected that a neighbor two doors down was cooking meth. So in 2000, she started getting the license plate numbers of people leaving the house, and police would sometimes pull them over and find drugs.
“I realized a dog makes a big difference,” she said. “You don’t have to get a warrant if the dog marks the car as having drugs, so I campaigned for Orting to get a K9.”
That time, she photographed as many police dogs as she could, and included them in a calendar that she sold to raise money for a dog, and she was finally able to provide one for the department there.
When she moved to the Sky Valley, she became aware that the K9 program in Monroe was shrinking. There once were four dogs on the force, two drug sniffing dogs and two tracking dogs.
But Taylor, one of the narcotic dogs, retired last year.
There are now just three dogs, Lexi, Joker and Jet.
And that number is soon to shrink to two, said Connor.
“Joker’s going to be retiring,” she said. “That leaves us with no tracking dogs.”
That’s going to hurt the police force, she said.
“I listen to the scanner all the time,” she said. “There’s probably five agencies, and every day they are looking for a K9.”
When a person gets home to find burglars fleeing out the back door, carrying things away, the best chance a person has to get it back is a police dog, she said.
Monroe police do use K9s to track fugitives, such as a recent escapee form the Monroe Correctional Center, and burglary suspects, such as Ben Pickrell, who was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of breaking into a downtown Monroe home.
There used to be grants that would pay for K9s, but in recent years the money has dried up.
“If the community wants a K9, they have to provide it,” said Connor. “The officers are even providing their own dog food.”
In 2010, the Monroe Rotary Club ran a campaign called K9 Crusade to raise money for equipment for the K9 program.
Now the community once again has a chance to pitch in for K9s.
Connor decided a while ago to make a set of trading cards featuring the three dogs currently on the force. She went through her large collection of pictures of the dogs and picked out the best picture of each of them, then sent them to a company in Colorado that makes trading cards.
She had 250 cards made up of each photo, and gave them to the police department largely as a gift, something they could hand out to kids or use for fundraising.
This time she is having another set made, once again featuring one card for each dog, as well as a wild card featuring Joker, and she will encourage the department to set them out on the counter at the station, along with a bucket suggesting a $5 minimum donation for a card.
In order to do that, she is seeking sponsors in the business community. Specifically, she is seeking eight sponsors to contribute $90 each to raise the $720 it will cost to get 750 cards printed.
After this set is gone, she will make another, and she hopes ultimately to do five sets, including a set featuring all of the past K9s that have served on the Monroe force.
She has also set up Facebook pages for each of the dogs (search for K9 Joker, K9 Lexi and K9 Jet).
People don’t realize how much power they have to assist police and help their community, said Connor. But her experiences in Orting taught her otherwise.
“A civilian has a lot of clout,” she said.