Police K-9 fundraiser Pet-A-Palooza back for third year, with new attractions for animal lovers

Pet lovers from across the Treasure Valley are invited to Julia Davis Park on Saturday for Pet-A-Palooza, an annual event that raises money for the Boise Police K-9 Foundation and awareness for local animal rescue groups. It will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event, organized by local Realtor Wendy Northcut, will feature K-9 demonstrations, games (with pets), face painting, doggie pools, food trucks (burgers, hotdogs and Kona Ice) and other vendors. One local veterinarian will be offering vaccinations, while another will offer tips on cutting dogs’ nails. The Meridian Valley Humane Society will bring dogs available for adoption. Police K-9 T-shirts and scarfs (for dogs) will be available for sale.

Northcut said one of the inspirations for the annual fundraiser was a neighbor who is an officer in the K-9 Unit.

“It was really eye-opening to me to see how these officers integrate these working dogs into their families,” said Northcut, who has a 7-year-old black mouth cur named Denman.

Pet-A-Palooza raised about $1,000 last year, and Northcut said much more will be raised this year. Twenty vendors are paying to participate in the free event, and there’s a silent auction. Some of the auction items include: a signed Boise State University football and tickets to Steelheads, Boise Hawks and BSU football games.

The Boise Police K-9 Unit has been in action since 1996, according to Officer Marshall Plaisted. The unit currently has 11 dogs — six dogs that do drug detection and apprension of suspects, three TSA bomb detection dogs and two dogs that do drug detection only.

Many of the K-9 unit dogs are Belgian Malinois, but there are also some other breeds, including a border collie-Malinois mix and German shepherd-Malinois mix. The dogs are valued not just for sniffing out drugs and tracking down suspects, but also for helping keep the public and officers safe in potentially dangerous situations.

The K-9 Unit is funded by the police department. The K-9 Foundation covers costs that are above expenses covered by the budget, including specialized training and equipment. In June, the unit is bringing in an expert from the Phoenix Police Department to do a weeklong training with K-9 officers and some SWAT officers on using the dogs in tracking.

“This would have never been possible without generous donations to the foundation, and events like Pet-A-Palooza,” Plaisted said. The money also helps cover the cost of training gear, such as bite suits, which can cost more than $1,000.

The dogs live with officers and their families. When on patrol with officers, the dogs are kept safe from the heat by equipment that notifies officers if the inside of the car is dangerous.

Pet-A-Palooza will be set up in a shady area on the east side of Julia Davis Park, 700 S. Capitol Boulevard in Boise. The best way to access the site — which will be near the tennis courts, behind the Discovery Center — is to enter the park from Myrtle Street and then turn left, as if going toward the paddleboats.

Check out more about Pet-A-Palooza on the event’s Facebook page.