'Barks & Badges' benefits Sheriff's K9 Unit

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - We've shown you the Washoe County K9 Unit train from helicopters. In one demonstration, a deputy plants drugs in a park area and has K-9 Boomer go find them. It's all part of the job for the dogs and their handlers.

For the dogs specifically...it's a game.

“That is all it is. They want the reward,” says Sargent Brandon Zirkle with Washoe County Sheriff's K9 Unit. “They want to play. They do that for us in order to get that toy. It is not an aggressive nature at all in these animals,” he says.

To show you how the drive for play works, I walk with a deputy to plant a toy out in the park. I set a trail by wiping our feet on the grass. Then, we cover the toy with grass. Kilo and Deputy Harris come a couple of minutes after me. Kilo follows my trail to the “T” and finds his toy.

While some of this is natural instinct, it takes about $23,000 to train a dog to this professional level.

Combine that with the $10,000 they need for equipment, you can understand this kind of crime fighting comes with a price.

That's why the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office works with Washoe County K-9 Partners. It’s a local non-profit to raise funds and help pay for many of the dogs' needs.

The third annual Barks and Badges benefit is not only a way to keep those funds coming, but also a way to thank the community for their continued financial support.