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Johnstown police K-9 fund halfway to donation goal

By: Maria Miller

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- It's only been a little over a month since a group of Johnstown business leaders came together and announced their plans to raise money for the Johnstown police K-9 unit and already they said they're halfway to their $60,000 goal, with another large donation made Wednesday.

The initiative was created to get the department new vehicles and organizers said the donations they've already seen is exactly what's needed and what they were hoping for. They just didn't expect the money coming in so fast.

"We consider our K-9 core to be a regional asset and I've said all along that it's not really a regional asset if we can't get the dogs to where they're needed," said Johnstown police chief Craig Foust.

Not having enough vehicles shouldn't be a problem much longer thanks to a community fund created to support the K-9 unit and the thousands of dollars already raised.

"We've been getting checks from people and thank-yous from people that I don't even know," said Jack Babich,  senior vice president for AmeriServ Financial and one of the people who got the initiative started. "(There have been people) who have been giving $10, $15, $20."

"It's a tremendous effort from everybody and truly appreciated," said Foust. "It's something we couldn't do on our own through the city so it's great to see."

And on Wednesday, another large donation was made, this time from Cambria Industrial Development for $2,500.

"It kind of gets contagious after seeing some of these people that are making these donations," said David Layman, principal of CID Park. "I sort of thought we'd get on the bandwagon too."

It's all money given back by the community for a department that serves them every day: A community, organizers said they knew would pull through, just not so quickly.

"Never five weeks into this or six weeks in would I have thought that I would be sitting here with commitments of 32,000 plus dollars," said Babich. "(Never would I have though) having the first car ordered and on the way and be talking about getting the second car ordered and on the streets."

"It isn't all traffic stops and shoplifters when you're an officer in the city of Johnstown," said Layman. "You see it in the news every day and in the paper every day. Tough job, tough environment and I think these dogs make their jobs easier, which helps make not only citizens, but businesses like mine safer."

Organizers said one vehicle has already been ordered and should be on the streets in early March, but said they still have a little more than $30,000 to raise.

Anyone with to help can send a donation to the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies Johnstown Police K-9 Unit Fund or call 814-536-7741.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times