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K-9 Funds Help Officers

Police foundation raises money to assist in veterinary care.

The first fund-raiser for the Alexandria Police Foundation raised $6,000, far surpassing expectations, according to officials. Organizers and supporters gathered in the courtyard of the Holiday Inn on King Street last week seeking support for the foundation. And the public responded.

Sgt. Cindy Scott and her retired K-9 companion, Sampson, will be the first beneficiaries of the Foundation’s program to assist with the cost of veterinary care for dogs who have performed so well in the line of duty. Sampson, also known as Sam, came to work with the Alexandria Police Department in 1992, and retired in 2000 because of medical problems. The German Shepherd’s story has been unusual from the beginning.

“An officer won him in a raffle,” Scott explained. “The raffle was conducted by the U. S. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and he was trained here in Alexandria. He’s definitely our only raffle dog.”

During their time together, Scott and Sam had many adventures. One young car thief is particularly memorable, according to Scott. “This kid stole a car, wrecked it and ran,” Scott said. “Sam and I tracked him over several fences, through yards and finally to an old blue car with a tarp thrown over it. Sam let me know that the kid was under the tarp but the young man refused to come out. I had to send Sam in to get him. When I asked him why he didn’t come out on his own, he told me it was because he was afraid of dogs,” she said.

SAM'S MEDICAL problems became severe in October of 2002. He developed German Shepherd milopathy, a fusion of the spine that paralyzes the dog’s hindquarters. “I really thought I was going to have to put him down,” Scott said. “The vet suggested a doggie wheelchair but warned me that many dogs don’t adjust to it very well.”

Sam, however, adjusted extremely well. “He can run faster in his wheelchair than he could when he was on the street,” Scott said. “He chases squirrels and the neighbor’s dogs. He’s really amazing.”

But there is a cost. Scott spends about $1,000 on veterinary bills each year, even with pet insurance. “This program will really help Sam and me,” Scott said. “I don’t know how I would afford all of this without help.”

The Foundation will help police officers like Scott and Sam and will support other things such as special educational programs for officers and training that cannot be paid for with city funds.

“It’s a wonderful organization and I am happy to be a part of it,” said former city manager Vola Lawson, who is a board member.

The Foundation’s next fund-raiser will be held in October at Mango Mike’s on Duke Street.