Retired K-9 budget among those cut by MPD - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Retired K-9 budget among those cut by MPD

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Taxpayers are outraged, saying that if the service dogs have to go without free meals, so should the Memphis City Council. Taxpayers are outraged, saying that if the service dogs have to go without free meals, so should the Memphis City Council.
MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - Retired police dogs are the latest casualty of the Memphis budget crisis. The police department issued a letter saying the city would no longer pay for the dogs' food and medications.

Taxpayers are outraged, saying that if the service dogs have to go without free meals, so should the Memphis City Council.

"I can't understand how they could justify that and not take care of our partners," said retired K-9 handler Jane Martin.

Jane Martin and Tracey McDonald are among a handful of retired Memphis police K-9 handlers, shocked to get a letter saying the department is dropping food and medical for retired police service dogs.

"They take care of us, so we need to take care of them," said Martin.

Crow was Tracey McDonald's K-9 patrol dog, also trained to detect explosives. The two retired in January.

The dangers of K-9 life went public, when "Gunner" the K-9 was stabbed ten times by a burglar in 2009.

"They could have easily stabbed a police officer or the K-9 handler of Gunner," said McDonald, retired K-9 handler.

Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong acknowledges that the dogs are like family.

"You have an officer whose partner just happens to be a German Shepard," said Armstrong.

But he says the budget is tight.

"We didn't feel it was right to ask taxpayers to continue to pay those bills without getting any services from those animals anymore," he explained.

McDonald pays for Crow's food, but takes her to the city vet for arthritis. Crow's medications cost the city about $100 per month.

Handlers say there are about five retired K-9s and they do not all need medication.

"They tend to go down pretty fast. They're not hanging around as old dogs," said Martin.

In fact, Martin recently put down her K-9, Rommy.

If the handlers do not adopt the dogs, the police department says they will find them homes.

To read the letter sent to K-9 handlers, click here: http://ftpcontent4.worldnow.com/wmctv/canine.pdf

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