By Brandi Makuski
Five local police K-9 dogs are now the stars of their own calendar.
The first-ever Central Wisconsin Regional K-9 Law Enforcement Teams Calendar hit the stands on Oct. 15, a cooperative effort between Wausau-area photographer Amy Zondlo, Moxy Creative and Spectra Print.
“It was very apparent, when I was photographing, that these officers have an amazing bond with their dogs,” said Zondlo, who works in the tourism industry by day but performs photography as a hobby. “Everybody knows that dogs growl and bite, but I didn’t want to show that; I wanted to show that bond; and they turned out really nice.”
Participating departments in Portage, Marathon, Lincoln, Wood, and Taylor counties will each receive a portion of the initial 1,230-run based on the number of dogs they have, according to Eric Hofmeister, owner of Spectra Print.
Hofmeister added he’s willing to donate another press run if the calendars sell out.
“This was really an easy decision because we’re so grateful for law enforcement and what the do for us,” Hofmeister said. “This was really easy to say yes to. We hope they can sell a lot of calendars and raise a lot of money.”
Portage Co. has three K-9 units. The Portage Co. Sheriff’s Office employs K-9 officers Yent and Lady, who partner with handlers Dep. Dan Wachowiak and John White, respectively. In Stevens Point, Ofc. JD Ballew partners with K-9 Luna, while Ofc. Austin Lee handles K-9 Fala. In Plover, Ofc. Seth Pionke partners with K-9 Bill.
The SPPD formally launched its K-9 unit in April, while Plover started its unit in late 2016. The Portage Co. Sheriff’s Office began its program in 1991.
All three departments work with neighboring K-9 units for both training events and investigations. All three departments will be selling the calendars for $20.
According to Stevens Point Assistant Police Chief Mike Rottier, who oversees the city’s K-9 unit, the K-9 programs can only continue with a mix of funding from drug forfeitures and private donations. The calendars, he said, are another way for his department to continue fundraising, along with the t-shirt, challenge coin and stuffed dogs the department already sells.
“I think we’re still in a spot where a lot of people don’t know about [the fundraising],” Rottier said. “So these calendars, they look great, and I hope we sell a lot. Every bit helps.”
For more information on the local K-9 units, or to donate, go to the Portage Co. Sheriff’s Office website, the Stevens Point Police Dept. customer service window at 933 Michigan Ave., or call the Plover Police Dept. at (715) 345-5255.
The calendars were printed during a special press run at Spectra Print on Sept. 27. The company and several of its vendors donated the paper, ink, and labor for the project.