A Jonesborough group is helping its police department get the best crime-fighting tools by hosting a fundraiser to purchase and take care of the town’s K9 officers.

Ruth Verhegge saw a need in her town of Jonesborough and took action.

“And we had some events in Jonesborough that we have where we could have used our K-9,” she says. “And there was none available to borrow from Johnson City or the sheriff’s department.”

So, Verhegge started Paws In Blue, to raise money to provide K9 officers for the Jonesborough police department. To date, the group has raised more than $100,000 and purchased four K9 officers. But their support doesn’t end there.

Verhegge says, “We basically pay for everything We pay for the food. We pay vet bills. We pay for their toys. We pay everything we can pay.”

Jonesborough Officer Hannah Fleming’s partner, K9 officer Cygan is trained to patrol, track, search, sniff out explosives, and to perform clearing work. They are skills that are expensive to learn and maintain.

“I mean the dogs are pretty expensive and usually our training is like anywhere from six to ten weeks depending on which school you go to,” she says. “And then you got to do their upkeep, their food, their vet bills, their equipment that they need. So it can get pretty pricey depending on what they need.”

But the price is nothing compared to the peace of mind Verhegge says she has knowing her efforts are helping the canines, their partners, and the community.

“It’s a very heartening, wonderful feeling,” Verhegge says. “I just I’m just so thrilled that we have them at all.”

Officer Fleming invites people to watch their canines while they’re at work. She says the hours of training are worth it when the K-9 officers are in action.

“The biggest thing is most of the time, if you see them, we’re working,” Fleming says. “So that’s the biggest thing is that we’re just trying to do our job and do it correctly. So whenever they see us, you know, it’s always okay to come up and ask and talk to us. Most of the time, we try to try to do our job and do it correctly, keep everybody safe in the community.”