The Waunakee Police Department is recruiting a new officer, one with a particularly sensitive sense of smell.

At Monday’s village board meeting, the board approved the use of donations raised for the purchase of the department’s previous K-9, Thoro, toward a replacement.

K-9 Thoro died unexpectedly in June after joining the department in 2017. At Monday’s meeting, the village’s finance director, Renee Meinholz, said the village had received donations exceeding the cost of K-9 Thoro’s purchase and training.

In a memo to the village board, Chief Adam Kreitzman noted, “We were extremely fortunate to receive donations from many donors who believe strongly in the value of our K-9 program. Very quickly, enough funds were raised to move forward with the purchase of K-9 Thoro.”

The memo notes that $16,000 of the funds raised were not spent and requested that the funds be made available for the purchase, training and equipment for Thoro’s replacement.

Chief Kreitzman told the board that the dog would be similar to Thoro, a Labrador, and trained in drug detection. But, he said, it would not be trained to detect marijuana. If marijuana were to become legal, the department could not untrain the dog to detect it, and it would have to be retired, Kreitzman said.

Kreitzman said two officers have volunteered to work with the new K-9, and one has been chosen. The squad vehicle used to ride with a K-9 has been in storage.

“We’re excited,” Kreitzman said. “We’re looking forward to having a dog around the PD again.”

The new K-9 will be the third for the Waunakee Police Department. Kreitzman, then an officer, worked with the department’s first and introduced the program to the department. K-9 Thoro’s partner was Officer Mitch Houk.

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