The target amount for the public fund drive is $19,600, which will cover the purchase price of the animal, training expenses for the dog and its handler, plus lodging and meal expenses incurred during the lengthy training phase.

A public fund drive that will help cover the cost of a new K-9 officer for the Marion County Sheriff’s Department has topped the $13,500 plateau.

“Our K-9 project is going pretty well I think,” said Sheriff Jimmy Shinn. “We are currently at $13,365 of funds that have been donated by our community partners. These donations have ranged from $20 to $2,500 and everything in between. ”

During the Nov. 20 county commission meeting at the courthouse in Palmyra the sheriff stressed that each donation is appreciated.

“Every little bit helps,” said Shinn.

The target amount for the public fund drive is $19,600, which will cover the purchase price of the animal, training expenses for the dog and its handler, plus lodging and meal expenses incurred during the lengthy training phase.

“This ($19,600) does not include the special equipment that is needed for the squad car, a kennel for the deputy’s house, leashes and leads for the dog. The total project’s costs will be approximately $30,000 by the time it is all said and done. We still have several weeks to try and raise additional funds for the K-9.”

Shinn has a plan for covering any funding shortfalls.

“For the remaining balance of the costs I will be utilizing my Sheriff’s Fund to cover these costs,” said the sheriff. “This fund is money generated by the civil process papers that our deputies serve on a daily basis.”

The new K-9 officer will be picked up early next month, according to Shinn.

“We are going Dec. 10 with the training instructor to Pennsylvania to pick out the K-9 that best bonds with the deputy (Shane Kirtlink) while he is there for two days,” said the sheriff, who noted that Marion County will be one of four law enforcement agencies in Missouri that will be sending representatives east in December to select a dog.

Once the animal is chosen the work begins.

“The instructor for the K-9 training will stay there an additional week to begin working with the dog in their environment and will then bring the dogs back to Missouri,” said Shinn. “Deputy Kirtlink will then begin his bonding with the dog at that time. The K-9 will then begin staying with the deputy.”

Following the initial bonding between Kirtlink and the dog, training will resume in Columbia on Jan. 15. According to Shinn, the next phase of training in central Missouri will last for 10 weeks.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com