K9 News

New K-9 Foundation looking for donations to support Yakima’s local K-9 units

Stephanie Muniz
Mutli-Media Journalist
Feb 23, 2021

YAKIMA, WA – A new non-profit in Yakima is making sure our favorite furry heroes are taken care of, our local K-9 units.

When it comes to catching criminals without putting others at harm K-9s often come to the rescue.

“I would say probably 50-60% of the time at least if the dog actually shows up and starts barking and we start giving those K9 announcements the smart ones will give up and come out,” said Joel Panattoni, Deputy/K9 Handler, Yakima County Sheriff’s Office.

One thing you may not know about our local K-9 programs is that they aren’t fully funded. This prompted a Yakima resident to question, What is funded?

“So what happens when there is no money in the coffer? And The dog has a vet bill or how do they buy their food? Their food is extremely expensive,” said Fern hart, Executive Director, K-9 Foundation Yakima Valley.

Deputy Panattoni said “The county pays for me as a Deputy sheriff and my vehicle. Everything that we have in relation to the K-9 programs are done through fundraising.”

That means even though K-9’s live with the families of Deputy K-9 handlers, the cost of taking care of dogs comes from donations and many times deputies own pocket.

In response Hart said “That’s just wrong, and how can we help? Obviously, they need money.”
That motivated her to start the K-9 Foundation Yakima Valley to help.

Deputy Panattoni says having the help of the foundation gives them the ability to focus on keeping the community safe.

With the creation of the new K9 foundation, Hart says she wants to help all the K9 programs in Yakima.

“I’ve promised and committed to both YPD and the sheriff’s office that we will get the money. Whatever our dogs need. We are their first contact, we will find it,” said Fern.

To donate to the K-9 Foundation click here <https://donate.k9foundationyv.org/> .

Another way you can help is by purchasing merchandise through their online store.


Published: February 24, 2021

Yakima County Sheriff Bob Udell and K-9 Foundation Yakima Valley founder Fern Hart were on KIT’s Morning News talking about the “force multiplier” effect of a K-9 unit. The County has two tracker dogs and one “sniffer” dog and the cost and need for support is significant.

The Sheriff says the dogs are able to go places faster and get into smaller spaces easier and better when looking for the bad guys which ultimately helps protect the public, the deputy and even the suspect themselves.  The problem is that for all their good work, K-9’s are expensive and the tight County budget doesn’t have the money to support the teams.  That’s where volunteers like Fern Hart come in.

She and a small group of other like minded dog lovers look to publicize the need for donations and they provide a nonprofit organization to help people who want to give.

The Foundation doesn’t do typical fundraising events.  They do have T-Shirts and Hoodies for sale on their website but their main job is to let the public know there is a  safe and secure way to help out local law enforcement.

Ms Hart says with the national defund the police efforts and disrespect shown toward police in many places, now, more than ever, the community needs to show support for our law enforcers.

A donation to the foundation is tax deductible and goes to help with the training, medical needs, housing, food and supplies required to keep the four footed deputies in top shape and on the job of helping make Yakima a safer and more crime free place to live.

K9 Foundation Yakima Valley

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