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After 12 Years, Mount Laurel Police Department Looks To Bring Back K-9 Unit

By Syma Chowdhry

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J., (CBS) -- Meet Gunner - he is a police dog in training.

"I am hoping this is a start to growing our K-9 program, ideally it would be nice to have one dog on the street 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," said Mount Laurel Police Corporal Christopher O'Prandy.

Gunner's owner is Corporal Christopher O'Prandy with the Mount Laurel Police Department.

Because of financial difficulties – they have not had a K-9 unit in 12 years and rely on K-9 assistance from neighboring towns on a regular basis.

"Their dogs may or may not be available when we need them," said Mount Laurel Police Lt. Stephen Riedener.

O'Prandy spent his own money to purchase Gunner.

"One hundred percent social, but when it is time to ask him to go to work. He switches as you can see in the demonstration."

"Approximately 560 hours of training goes into the dog and narcotics training is another 400 hours," said Perry Parks of Absolute Control Dog Training.

Retired police officer Perry Parks is donating his time to train Gunner.

"Whether it is locating missing children, elderly people, wanted suspects and it also gives officers another option other than using lethal force," said Parks.

The Mount Laurel Police want an active K-9 unit but they don't have the funding and will have to rely on donations.

"One dog for a town as large as Mount Laurel is just not sufficient so we plan on expanding the program," said Lt. Riedener.

The police department is asking for donations and holding fundraising events at restaurants like this one.

"They give so much to the community, so it is time for the community to give back to them," said Tony Martino of On the Border restaurant.

The first event will be held June 17th at On the Border restaurant on Church Road.

"Every dollar that is spent here that they bring us a flyer we will donate 10% of that back to them," said Martino.

This type of fundraising is similar to what other local police departments have done.

West Deptford Police have relied on donations for their K-9's for the past 10 years.

"I receive $1,300 in my budget for two dogs right now for their food bill, other than that everything is funded by donations," said West Deptford Police Chief Samuel DiSimone.

Earlier this year donations poured in after one of their retired K-9s had to be put down and a farewell tribute photo went viral.

"It brought light to the K9's and what they do and how valuable they are," said Chief DiSimone.

For Mount Laurel police – this effort is just the beginning.

"Hopefully this is a good start and with the support of our community we can make it happen," said Corporal O'Prandy.

Donations can be sent to the Mount Laurel Police Department, 100 Mount Laurel Rd., Mount Laurel, NJ 08054, ATTN: Police K-9 Fund, or dropped off in person.

The fundraising event is Wednesday June 17th at "On the Border" Mexican Grill & Cantina, 4160 Church Road, Mount Laurel, NJ. 10% of all proceeds wil go to our K-9 fund.

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