Katharine Martin-Savage, the founder of the Heidi K-9 Memorial Fund, recently sent out a plea for donations to keep the fund alive.

The K-9 memorial fund was founded as the result of the untimely death in June 1994 of Heidi, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office's first patrol dog, owned by Deputy Clayton Jordan. Heidi died after contracting a disease from a tick.

In July of the same year, Lincoln County Commissioners were presented a donation of $2,000 to create a special reserve account to be funded by private donations and not impact the county budget.

The principal purpose of the fund is to provide financial assistance to selected K-9 handlers who wish to purchase a patrol dog.  Potential K-9 handlers must successfully complete a screening process, which has been created and administered by the sheriff. To date, the Heidi Memorial K-9 Fund has purchased four patrol dogs.

In addition to purchasing the patrol dogs, the Heidi Fund has provided bulletproof vests for the K9s in 2002 and 2013. The vests carry a cost of approximately $1,000 and are fitted to the individual dog.

According to a press release from Martin-Savage, the public has been most generous over the years.  However, as funds have diminished, there is a need for creating public awareness about the fund.  “It has been several years since I have written a press release about the Heidi Fund,” she said.  “This year I felt I needed to be a bit more proactive by sending out letters, not only to the media, but also to area businesses because donations have dramatically dwindled and the Heidi Fund needs help.”

The patrol dogs and their handlers provide a variety of services, including locating lost children and adults, public and private school searches, as well as businesses and evidence searches. In addition to helping officers on patrol, the dogs act as ambassadors in the schools, where they frequently interact with students.

The additional security provided by a patrol dog is immeasurable, especially during domestic violence situations, home invasions and traffic stops throughout the county.

In addition to their regular assignments, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Units often assist other law enforcement agencies.

“Donations in any amount are very much appreciated,” Martin-Savage said.

Contributions made payable to the Heidi Memorial K-9 Fund in any amount may be sent to the office of the Lincoln County Treasurer, Post Office Box 249, Wiscasset, ME 04578