News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

October 8, 2012

Kindness for THPD’s Top Dogs

K-9 unit gets support at ‘Random Acts’ event

TERRE HAUTE — Special dogs were treated to some kindness Sunday afternoon by people wanting to help.

Volunteers from Special People Performing Random Acts of Kindness (SPPRAK) had food, games and cameras going in the parking lot of Riddell National Bank by Walmart on Indiana 46.

Meanwhile, officers of the Terre Haute Police Department, men and canines alike, were on the scene to introduce themselves to the community.

SPPRAK member Susan Short said the group’s “Hot Dogs for Top Dogs” program was meant to raise funds for the THPD K-9 unit.

“We take suggestions from the community about what kind of fundraising activities they’d like to see,” she said amid a chilly 50-degree afternoon. When they learned the local K-9 unit had to borrow a bite suit from the Clay County department for lack of funds, they decided to get involved.

Hot dogs, popcorn and face-painting were all available for kids and their parents that afternoon as donations were accepted on behalf of the department and its dogs. Bite suits, which protect officers while teaching the dogs to serve various law enforcement roles, are a must, she said.

“The dogs are pretty rough on the bite suits, so we want to make sure these guys are taken care of,” she said.

K-9 Officer Ryan Adamson and his partner, Caron, showed off some tricks for children who got to pet the black-and-tan German Shepherd.

At about 95 pounds, the 4-year-old dog patiently chewed tennis balls while Adamson explained the ongoing expenses of maintaining the program. In addition to food and veterinary bills, the protective sleeves and bite suits cost upwards of $400 each and regularly get torn to shreds.

“We’re close to being self-sufficient, but every bit of community support helps,” he said.

SPPRAK began in late 2009 with Short, Robin Heng and Kim Grubb decided to organize fundraisers for random community groups. Since then, their initiatives have benefited hurricane victims and the hungry alike, as they accept ideas on their website,

“We don’t really have a fundraising goal,” Short said Sunday. “We’ve found that people are really good about supporting these events.”

Officer Devon Huebner, in his fourth year with the department, said he’s been on the K-9 unit about four months. His partner, an 80-pound German Shepherd named Axle, turns 3 years old in December and is more than a co-worker, he said.

“My son is 2 and you can tell they’re at the exact same emotional level,” he said, noting the officers take their partners home and care for them 365 days a year, just like any other member of the family. “They play together really well.”

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or

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