Law enforcement K9s now have a safety net to help with medical costs after they retire, thanks to a nonprofit organization founded by two local law enforcement K9 handlers.
The Georgia K9 Retirement Foundation is not affiliated with any law enforcement agency but was created by Kyle Briley and co-founded by Kirk McGlamery, both of whom are currently assigned as K9 handlers at their respective agencies. Briley is an advanced patrol officer with the Statesboro Police Department, and McGlamery is a captain with the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office.
“The Georgia K9 Retirement Foundation is a non-profit organization that focuses on providing retired K9s medical assistance for the first two years after retirement,” Briley said. “In order to be eligible, the handler or adopter must apply to the foundation and, if approved, can be eligible of reimbursement up to $1,000 per year for two years.”
Applications are available on the foundation’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/Georgia-K9-Retirement-Foundation).
“Most agencies and cities or counties provide the K9s with everything that is needed during their working career,” he said. “It's not uncommon for the agency to not continue to pay for medical costs after the retirement, and the responsibilities fall on the handler or adopter.”
The Statesboro Police Department has one retired K9, a 9-year-old Labrador retriever named Bruno, who was a drug-detecting K9 for four years, Briley said.
“He retired due to hip issues and currently lives with Sgt. Andrew Samples, who was his handler,” he said.
Samples is no longer a K9 handler, and Bruno retired three years ago. There are currently no other retired K9s living in the area, Briley said.
Often, a dog’s handler will choose to keep the dog as a pet following retirement, as the K9 usually becomes a beloved partner. However, retired K9s can experience costly medical challenges.
“This foundation was created to help assist in that area,” Briley said. “We are often met with a great support base and asked what they can do to help. This is a foundation that they can support that will truly benefit the dogs, even after their working careers are over.
“There are stories across the nation about working K9s not being able to have proper medical care during retirement due to the costs being expensive for procedures that were work related,” he said.
The foundation is governed by a board: Nick Propps, president; Lovett Bennett Jr., vice president; Dennis Johnson, treasurer/secretary; and board members Chadrick Parrish and Justin Samples.
“Each law enforcement agency in Bulloch County has allowed a K9 handler to be a liaison to the board,” Briley said. “As of now, the foundation is only serving the Bulloch County area, but we hope to grow and eventually be statewide. We have a Facebook page and are working on creating other social media outlets.”
The foundation is funded by donations. Those who wish to donate can mail checks made out to “Georgia K9 Retirement Foundation” to 28 East Main St. For further information, visit the foundation’s Facebook page.
Briley asks for the public’s help in spreading the word about the foundation.
“Even vocal support or liking the page gives the foundation exposure, and that's valuable, too,” he said.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.