Barry County Sheriff's Department

Barry County's Sheriff's Office

K-9 Unit

The beginning…

Barry County Sheriff’s Office’s K-9 unit was officially established on April 27th, 2006 with a formal “swearing-in” ceremony in front of the Sheriff’s Office. Various members of the community were on hand to witness, for the first time in the Sheriff‘s Office history, a K-9 take the oath of office.
This important ceremony made it official that, Gina, is to be recognized as an official member of the Barry County Sheriff’s Office as a police canine. This distinction enables certain protections and exceptions under Michigan State Law.
Sheriff Leaf presented Gina with her specially designed badge. After the Sheriff read the oath to Gina, she barked as if to say “I do”.

(Shown at right / Deputy Richelle Spencer with Deputy Gina) 

Cost to the taxpayer?
The K-9 unit development was approved by the County Board of Commissioners. However, may not have been financially possible without various significant private donations along with remarkable grants from the Barry Community Foundation, Wal-Mart and Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority. Fundraiser events assisted the unit as well.
The funds made it possible to purchase the fully trained canine; training equipment; specially equipped and dedicated police K-9 vehicle with heat detection safety and bail-out electronics; bullet resistant vest; uniforms for the handler; food; grooming; veterinary care; and miscellaneous support supplies.
Private donations from citizens and business leaders are always appreciated so that we may continue this valuable program for our community for years to come. Additional expenses from year to year will come from additional training gear, replacement of training gear, training programs, vehicle maintenance, and veterinary care and food.

Where did Gina come from?
After long research on police canines and training kennels in Michigan, Northern Michigan K-9 (NMK9) was ultimately selected because of their reputation in the law enforcement canine community and extensive experience.

Who is Gina’s Handler?
Deputy Spencer was chosen to be the Sheriff’s Office’s K-9 handler through an application and interview process by a panel of professional K-9 handlers. She started working with canines in 4-H and has continued to show dogs in local, state and national shows. The knowledge and experience she brings to the program is a great asset.

Tell me more about Deputy Gina………
Deputy Gina was born in Hungary on May 29, 2004. Gina is sable in color and came to us completely pre-trained. That means before she was placed with her handler, Gina’s narcotic detection work, tracking, handler protection, article, area and building search, were already in place.

What type of training does the police canine team undergo?
The initial Basic Canine Training Course was 4 weeks in length and is an accredited training program through Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES).
Training is an on going and never ending process To maintain all of Gina’s abilities to perform well in the law enforcement environment, training on a weekly basis is conducted with other K-9 teams.
During weekly training, Deputy Spencer and Deputy Gina continually perform extensive training exercises on topics such as canine obedience; article searching; field searching; tracking; and narcotics detection. They also train extensively in regards to techniques for handler protection, suspect apprehension, and pursuit.
The K-9 team must certify annually so that they are able to document such for a court. This is significant and unique because the K-9 team is capable of developing “probable cause” for purposes of conducting both warrant and warrant-less searches in certain circumstances. Therefore, the K-9 handler must be ready to provide specific training documentation to a court of law in the event an arrest or the development of probable cause is ever challenged. To aid with this, Deputy Spencer attends legal updates covering such topics as 4th amendment considerations.
In regards to narcotics detection, Deputy Spencer has attended drug interdiction classes presented by the Drug Enforcement Association (DEA). These seminars and classes compliment previous training to assist the K-9 team in locating illegal narcotics.

What can Gina do for law enforcement and the community?
Gina is considered a dual-purpose narcotic trained police dog. This means that she has specific training to perform the following functions to assist in a law enforcement mission:

  1. Narcotics detection (heroine, cocaine, marijuana, crack, methamphetamine, and other derivatives [She searches for these illegal substances in: vehicles, private residences, businesses, packages, and school campus’ upon request by a school district.]
  2. Suspect Apprehension
    -Area and building searches for a criminal suspect's)
    -Clearing vehicles after high risk stops
    -Support emergency tactical response teams
  3. Tracking and searching
    -For lost people
    -Tracking and apprehension of criminal suspects
    -Evidence search and recovery
  4. Handler Protection
  5. Tactical obedience
    In addition to the aforementioned specific law enforcement functions, Deputy Gina and Deputy Spencer are available to groups, schools, or organizations for purposes of putting on general demonstrations and to discuss the police K-9 role, and other related topics specific to the group audience and interest. Although there is no charge for appearances, any financial donation toward the Barry County Sheriff’s Office K-9 fund is greatly appreciated. These funds will aid to purchase items mentioned above.

To our supporting community:

Dep Shaffer and Dep Spencer have had citizens approach them from time to time asking to donate to the K9 unit. The problem is, these generous people have advised don't know what the K9 unit is in need of. In response to those questions, a list has been generated so that if you find yourself asking the question, "I wonder what I could do to assist the K9 unit?", you will have to wonder no further. The following list consists of items they are currently in need of or would like to have in the future. The order which the items will be purchased should be based on priority unless we receive a request for a specific item to be purchased.

If you decide to make a donation, we will list you or your organization as a supporter on our website. If you decline to have your name posted on the website, please make certain we are made aware.

Monetary Donations will be utilized to purchase the following (in no specific order):

-K9 Behavior Shaping Device #2 kit ($689.95) -Synthetic Leads and Leashes -Magnetic stash boxes -Narcotics bags -Training rewards (kongs, balls, tug toys, etc.)

Area Searching & Tracking:
-GPS Dog Collar w/remotes x 2
-Nylon tracking harness for Kyro (custom embroidered w/his name) -Synthetic Leads and Leashes

-Bite Suit (Ultra Kimono Suit w/police package-Approximately $1295) -Hidden bite sleeve (between $100-$200) -Scratch pads ($190-$230) -Hand protection x 2 ($129.95 each) -Bite Sleeves

K9 Safety:
-Kevlar dog booties (protect K9's feet in hazardous areas or conditions) -Cooling vests x 2 (keep dogs cool while working in extreme heat $159.95) -Unipack refills for cooling vests x 2 ($99.95) -Medical supplies to refill/expand K-9 emergency medical bags

Miscellaneous Supplies:
-Food and water bowls
-Vitamins and supplements
-Vari-Kennels (X-large x2)
-Plastic tarps (various sizes)
-Grooming supplies

-Patrol car storage inserts (organize K9 equipment)

Training Funds:
-To attend certification workshops and seminars to keep ourselves and our K9 partners current with training methods, training theories, equipment, case law, and necessary team maintenance.

Medical Funds:
-Veterinary bills, preventative and treatment

Dog Food:
-Because of the special job we ask our K9 partners to do, we must provide them with an
appropriate level of balanced nutrition. Both K9 Gina and K9 Kyro our fed special diets
to accommodate their individual needs. Currently, we do not have an agreement with a supplier
to offset some of our costs. We are working on an agreement with a pet store currently, but
that will only alleviate some of the financial burden. Therefore, we are in need of donations
to purchase dog food.

*Some of the equipment listed above may be purchased through the Ray Allen Company. Gift
certificates are available for purchase on their website at

**If you own a particular item listed above that you no longer have a need for and would like
to donate, please contact either Dep Spencer or Dep Shaffer at the Barry County Sheriff's
Dept. to discuss arrangements.


Barry County Sheriff’s Office Canine Unit is supported by grants from:

Barry Community Foundation
Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority
Wal-Mart Foundation
Des Holzes German Shepherds

Barry County Sheriff’s Office Canine Unit is also funded by donations from:

Affordable Asphalt
Andy & Kristen Cove
B.C. Home Ec. Advisory Council
Barb & Stewart Keeler
Barry County Sheriff’s Posse
Barry County Victim Services Unit
Bosley Pharmacy
Chris Mugridge
COA Employees
Dewey's Car Palace
Frank Mix
Freeport Elevator
Go Go Auto Parts
Hastings Jaycees
Hastings Moose Lodge #628

Hastings Mutual Insurance
Hastings Pediatrics
Local 1002 UAW
Lyle H. Sandbrook Sr.
Lyle Sandbrook Jr.
Mac Leod Chiropractic Center
McManaways in memory of Gary Howell & Gary Sunior
Middle Villa Inn
Miller Real Estate
Munn Manufacturing
Nashville Car Club
Northern MI K-9
Susan Vlietstra
Thomas Groos
Thornapple Valley Church
W. German Shepard Kennels

Veterinary services and Gina’s ballistic resistant vest are donated by Linda Robertson D.V.M. of Hastings.
Veterinary services for Kyro are donated by Dr. Robert Jackson at South Kent Veterinary Hospital.
Grooming services are donated by Canine Creations (Nancy Doorn).
Pierce Cedar Creek Institute
allows us full use of their facilities at our leisure, for maintenance training.