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Is there a better combination than pups and pizza?

Probably not, which is why the York County Sheriff's Office partnered with Infinito's Pizza on Sunday evening to do a fundraiser for the department's K-9s. Old favorites Capt. Dargo and Lt. Lou made an appearance, greeting community members as they walked into the pizza buffet, but they were joined with their newest addition: Sgt. Hawk.

Hawk is the department's new German shepherd, and the fundraiser was his first official public appearance. He'll be working with Cpl. Corey Strine; the two will travel to Ohio to train together at the Von der Haus Gill German Shepherds & Police K9 Academy for six weeks starting next month.

Lt. David Godfrey explained that the Sheriff's Office holds fundraisers such as the one with Infinito's Pizza throughout the year to keep the cost of the dogs out of what the taxpayers pay.

"We try to keep as much of the K-9 fund away from the taxpayers as possible," he said. "It's pretty close to near nothing."

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The low cost to the community is due in part to the fundraisers but also because a lot of the larger expenses are provided for free. For example, the Dover Area Animal Hospital does all veterinary work on the dogs for free, and their food is donated by Food Network superstar Rachael Ray.

The fundraisers, Godfrey explained, help the office pay for things such as leashes, bowls and any extra training the dogs might need. They also help the dogs, particularly young ones like Hawk, learn to deal with the public. The dogs are often called to crowded places, so being able to interact with a lot of people is important, Godfrey said.

Crowded: The fundraiser seemed to be a success. It ran from 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday, during which time anyone who purchased pizza at Infinito's Pizza Buffet, 1500 N. George St. in North York, had $1 of their meal donated to the fundraiser.

"They just have to say, 'We're here for the dogs,'" Godfrey explained.

For much of the evening, trying to find seating in the restaurant was an adventure. Godfrey said at one point the owner came out to let them know they had run out of chairs for people to sit on. Outside the restaurant, crowds of people of all ages gathered around to pet the dogs and say hi to Sgt. Hawk for the first time.

Supporters: Madison Platts, a 5-year-old Dover Township resident, attended the fundraiser with her mom, Jessica Erney. Dressed in a police uniform, Madison stayed close by Dargo, her favorite, and his handler, Godfrey.

"I want to keep them around and doing jobs," Madison said with the help of her mom. "They keep things safe."

Erney said they met Dargo fairly recently, and Madison was immediately hooked on the dog.

"All she ever talks about is Dargo," Erney said with a laugh.

Jennifer Smith, a Manchester Township resident and a defense attorney for York County and the surrounding area, also attended the fundraiser to show her support for the department and its K-9s. She spoke of how important the work of the K-9 unit is and how having the dogs in the courthouse often stops defendants from violent or dangerous outbursts.

"I came because I'm a huge supporter of police officers, and I love the K-9 program," she said.

Smith also was there as a supporter of Jonelle Harter Eshbach, who is running for York County district attorney. Eshbach also made an appearance at the fundraiser. Sheriff Richard Keuerleber is the chairman of Eshbach's campaign, so she came out in support of him and law enforcement generally.

"I think these animals are so important," Eshbach said. "They make their (police) jobs easier."

Godfrey agreed with that sentiment. He estimated the dogs did well over 100 public demonstrations last year and worked in 12 search and rescues, mostly for older people with dementia and Alzheimer's wandering from home. The dogs also are called in for bomb threats, can be used to track evidence and go into buildings where dangerous criminals might be hiding if it's too dangerous for officers.

If you missed your chance for some good food and dogs, the York County Sheriff's Office's next fundraiser for the K-9s will be June 30. An all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner and silent auction will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Union Fire & Hose Co. No. 1, located at 30 E Canal St., Dover.


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