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Grant, community partnerships fund K9 unit

OWENTON, Kentucky (March 15, 2022) – Through grant funding and multiple community partnerships, the Owen County Sheriff's Office will introduce its newest addition this spring: Deputy K9 Stu.

The K9 unit will focus on narcotics detection, article search, and tracking, with handling performed exclusively by Deputy Frank Blackwell, who is currently training with Stu in Berrien Center, Michigan.

The Sheriff's Office announced its intent to purchase a K9 unit last year, soliciting donations from the community to support the effort. The opportunity to apply for a grant through the NKY Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (NKYASAP) later presented itself to expedite the acquisition of the K9.

With the support of Owen County Sheriff Mark Bess, Owen County Judge/Executive Casey Ellis and members of the Fiscal Court, Community Programs Administrator Dan Brenyo facilitated the grant, which was later awarded in the amount of $9,000, covering the purchase of the K9, as well as all subsequent training.

"With the Fiscal Court's continued focus on modernizing the Owen County Sheriff's Office, it seemed like a logical choice to procure a drug dog that can perform the work of multiple individuals," Ellis, who sits on the NKYASAP board, said. "The presence of a police dog alone is another excellent tool for our deputies to aid in curbing the drug epidemic our community has faced in recent years."

The acquisition of the K9 unit opens opportunities for further grant funding for the support, training, and hiring of additional deputies, according to Brenyo.

In addition to the NKYASAP grant, multiple community organizations and businesses came together to support the effort:

  • The Owen County Drug Prevention Coalition (OCDPC), an in-kind donation of a 10' x 10' kennel with a roof and a 4' x 10' kennel platform

  • The Owen County Animal Clinic, an in-kind donation of full veterinary service coverage, annual check-ups, vaccinations, X-Rays, cleaning, and treatments for the life of the K9

  • Southern States (Owenton), an in-kind donation of dog food for the life of the K9.

Private donations aided in the purchase of a vehicle kennel and performance pad.

Besides performing routine duties alongside Blackwell, Stu will take part in drug walks at Owen County Schools.

"(Blackwell) is very enthused about becoming a K9 handler," said Owen County Sheriff Mark Bess. "Stu will be a great asset at the schools, on traffic stops, and we hope to see some interdiction accomplished. It's wonderful how the community came together to support this effort, and we can't thank everyone involved enough."

Deputy K9 Stu is an 18-month-old black lab purchased from F.M. K9, where he and Blackwell are training.

"I'm extremely happy to have Stu as my partner," Blackwell said. "I'm looking forward to completing our training so we can get to work keeping our community and schools safe."

Deputy K9 Stu and Deputy Frank Blackwell

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