MOUNT LAUREL >> In October 2019, the Mount Laurel Police Department collaborated with Mount Laurel Animal Hospital to raise funds to purchase and train an explosives detection dog, the first for the township police.
However, through the overwhelming generosity and support of the citizens, they were able to acquire an explosives detection dog, as well as a scent detection dog.
Local businesses including Kerbeck Automotive and Holman Automotive rallied around the cause to help materialize this initiative.
“I’ve always maintained that we best serve the needs of the community when we have the partnership and support of residents," said Mount Laurel Police Chief Stephen Riedener. "This generosity is a prime example of the importance of partnership. We are extremely grateful for the generosity of the citizens and thank everyone who supported the cause to amplify the unit’s resources.”
Dr. Robert Mankowski, Co-owner and Veterinarian at Mount Laurel Animal Hospital said: “We are in awe of the amazing support received for this initiative and thank all those who supported this effort to improve the security of our community.”
According to Mankowski, approximately $55,000 was raised through "several methods including direct outreach to local businesses, a GoFundMe created by our hospital, a series of e-blasts to friends and family and several posts on social media to rally around this amazing cause."
The donations were allocated towards the purchase, training and associated expenses for the two police dogs. The K-9 unit, which already consists of two narcotic detection/patrol dogs, recently welcomed its newest recruits, Drake and Meeko.
Drake is a Labrador Retriever trained for tracking and narcotics detection, while Meeko is a German Shepherd explosives detection and tracking dog.
The increased canine presence will be a great asset to Burlington County. The new dogs will respond to threats within the Mount Laurel community as well as in other municipalities working with the Mount Laurel Police Department.
When asked why the he thought the initiative was so important, Mankowski said:
"We are honored to call Mount Laurel our home, and proud to live and work in such an upstanding community. Mount Laurel Police strive each day to keep our neighborhoods safe. We have the privilege of caring for the department’s K9 officers, and in discussions with handler Corporal Chris O’Prandy who is nationally recognized with certification in narcotics detection (K9 Gunner), we became aware that neither Mount Laurel nor surrounding neighborhoods have an explosives detector dog. As a 24-hour business with staff in the hundreds, safety is priority. We are so thankful that local businesses and our amazing community joined forces with us to not only make this happen but exceed our goal and allow for a second dog!"