From Stan Clark, Walled Lake:
After reading the article in the Spinal Column Newsweekly, dated Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, regarding the K-9 program, I felt I needed to write you about a correction. The article states the (Oakland County Sheriff’s Department) K-9 program started in 2000. In fact, the program started several years prior to that.
I retired as an Oakland County sheriff deputy of 25 years. Approximately sometime in 1965 I felt the sheriff department could use the service of a police dog. The sheriff said if I purchased the dog and trained it and they saw the dog work, they would allow me to use him on the road on a trial basis.
I enrolled in a K-9 training school in Plymouth, Mich. The cost (out of my own pocket) of $2,500 included the training and the dog. I named the dog Fritz, and we both started our many months of training with two days a week at the training school, also training on my off days and any time I had in between. I trained him in German, also hand commands, tracking, crowd control and building search, then we hit the road. Fritz did a fantastic job. We took calls from all over the county and he was soon known for his tracking ability. We did a lot of public relations programs and Fritz was the star.
Later, after Fritz had “proven” himself, the Rotary Club in South Lyon reimbursed me the $2,500.
During the riots and a problem at a local hospital, they would not allow the dog in. That upset me and I set out to get the dog deputized. I was advised if I registered him with the Agriculture Department and was given a number it could be done. Fritz was deputized by Circuit Court Judge Ziem and sworn in. He then became a full-fledged deputy and was issued a deputy card. A deputy uniform was made for him and a badge given to him. The county had a million-dollar insurance policy, in case he bit the wrong person.
Fritz worked the road with me for 11 years. During the riots he was shot with a high-powered sling shot and it caused some damage to his hip. He worked until 1976 when he started showing that the injury was starting to be a problem.
Three other dogs had joined the program by then. Fritz retired in 1976, and during a ceremony Fritz was given a trophy for his work service.
Some of the handlers started making demands, so the K-9 program was shut down. A program was later restarted and I handed down the uniform that had belonged to Fritz to a dog who is still wearing it.
I just though you would like to know the history.