By Shannon Woodworth
LAKE OF EGYPT — It’s a glimmer of hope for every badge across the nation.
At a time when the country’s law enforcement officers face a turmoil of violence, a bright ray of light shined upon the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department last week.
It came in the form of a $16,000 private donation.
The story begins a month ago when the department’s K9, named Rony 21, became ill and died at a local veterinarian’s office due to kidney failure at the age of two years and three months old. It was very difficult for everyone in the department to say goodbye, especially Cyle Harner, the department’s K9 deputy and the dog’s handler.
Rony 21 was a Belgian Malinois, a breed known for being smart, confident, and hardworking. Harner couldn’t imagine a harder working dog. “There wasn’t a day that Rony 21 didn’t work hard and provide service to Johnson County,” Harner said.
The dog led the department in drug seizures, searches, and even tracked down two suspects who tried to run from authorities.
The dog’s death was a “big loss for Johnson County,” Harner said.
To make matters worse, the department did not have the money to replace Rony 21, nor was there any time frame on trying to raise the money necessary to purchase a new dog.
Last weekend, however, Harner was called to The Resort at Egyptian Hills. There, Harner was met by Micah Merrill, the resort’s managing partner, who had summoned law enforcement to discuss some damage to the resort’s property. In conversation with Merrill, Harner mentioned about the dog’s death.
Merrill and Harner had never met before but immediately connected in conversation over the dog. Merrill could hear the conviction in Harner’s voice for the need for a K9 unit in the sheriff’s department. So, Merrill committed to raising the money for a new dog.
Within two days, the money was raised, $16,000 in all.
“When he called and said the money had been raised, I was speechless,” Harner said. “This was someone I had never met before and he was willing to help law enforcement out that much? It was amazing. All I can say is a huge thank you.”
Merrill said the money was raised half from the resort and half from an anonymous donor. The department hopes to have a new dog by the end of August.
The Resort, located on the Lake of Egypt, is said to be a passport to the ultimate outdoor family vacation. Whether it’s waterskiing, wakeboarding, tubing, sport fishing, or pleasure boating; the Lake of Egypt is a boater’s paradise. All within a stone’s throw of The Resort’s cabins and facilities. Learn more about The Resort at www.egyptianhillsresort.com.