Surry Sheriff’s Office proposes K-9 unit

Published 7:33 pm Friday, September 2, 2022

Surry County Sheriff Carlos Turner is proposing to add his department’s first K-9 unit, with the intent of using the dog primarily for search and rescue operations.

According to Deputy Matthew Richmond, whom Turner tasked with researching the costs and logistics of adding a K-9 unit, Surry currently relies on outside agencies for K-9 support, resulting in an average response time of two to four hours.

“A lot of times by then it kind of defeats the purpose of calling out a tracking K-9 because it’s been hours at that point,” Richmond said.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Since Turner has been in office, the Surry Sheriff’s Office has responded to 113 missing person calls.

“Hollywood has portrayed the law enforcement K-9 as … the ‘bite dog.’ That’s what everybody thinks about when they think of police K-9s,” Richmond said. “That is not what we are looking for here in Surry County; it does not make sense here.”

Richmond, a former Marine, is proposing to utilize his Veterans Administration benefits to pay for the upfront $19,500 cost of the K-9 and his training as a handler, which would likely occur at American K-9 Interdiction’s campuses in neighboring Isle of Wight County.

Food, housing, veterinary expenses and training for a single dog would cost another roughly $5,000 annually. The department plans to “try to run the unit completely off of donations” rather than taxpayer dollars, Richmond said.

“Isle of Wight County and Prince George County and some others who have these programs, they get a lot of support and donations from businesses and supporters in the community,” said County Administrator Melissa Rollins. “I know this community has supported Sheriff Turner in other endeavors so we are hoping that’s the same.”

Surry’s supervisors gave their informal consensus to proceed with the program at their Sept. 1 meeting.