The images in a new fundraising calendar are rather arresting.
The Ontario Provincial Police launched the Canine Calendar during an event Tuesday at its headquarters in Orillia.
Each month of 2019 features a police dog, and some of those canines were on hand for Tuesday’s event – much to the delight of the grades 2 and 3 students from Monsignor Lee Catholic School who were invited to attend.
Before unveiling the calendar, the students were able to ask questions of the dogs’ handlers, and kids really do say the darnedest things.
“Did that dog die?” one student asked, pointing to a photo of a dog.
“No,” an officer replied.
“Where is it?” the student asked.
The students’ excitement was matched only by that of Stella, a chocolate Lab that barked in response to the kids' applause.
The handlers took the opportunity to explain the various ways the dogs assist police. Some search out drugs, guns and explosives, while others track down those who have gone missing.
Criminals who have come face to face with a police dog might feel Const. Marc Lapointe’s explanation of the canines’ role was understated.
“We have dogs that find people we want to talk to and they kind of negotiate that conversation,” he said, eliciting some chuckles from the adults in the room.
The inspiration for the OPP Canine Calendar came from firefighters, known for their fundraising calendars. Proceeds from the calendar will be split between the OPP Youth Foundation and the Friends of the OPP Museum.
Kevin Lehman is the volunteer administrator of the OPP Youth Foundation.
“It’s fabulous. It’s an excellent initiative,” he said of the fundraiser, noting the foundation does not receive funding from the government or the OPP.
It did get a boost from the OPP Canine Unit on Tuesday, however. The foundation received $14,200 – the Friends of the OPP Museum was given the same amount – from the proceeds of the 2018 calendar. The money will bolster the foundation’s youth development fund, which assists kids in need across the province.
Officers can apply to the foundation for up to $500 to help a kid in a variety of ways. It could be music lessons or sports, or more essential needs such as clothing.
“If there are people out there who know of children who could use help, they should contact a member of the OPP,” Lehman said, noting the officers are the ones to have to submit the application.
There are two requirements: The potential recipient must be in financial need and cannot be related to a member of the OPP.
Find out more about the OPP Youth Foundation here.
Calendars can be purchased online or at OPP General Headquarters on Memorial Avenue. They cost $10 each.
“There is no better way to celebrate our 10th anniversary of the Friends of the OPP Museum than partnering with other unique charities like the OPP Youth Foundation,” museum board member Dave Osborne said in a statement. “Fundraising events like these provide a stable annual fundraiser that supports our work preserving and celebrating OPP history, including the stories of these amazing dogs and their handlers.”
The OPP’s Canine Unit has been in existence since 1965. At that time, there were three teams covering all of Ontario. Now there are 27 teams, each with a dog and a handler, as well as 16 dogs trained for specific detection purposes.