Attendees whooped and hollered as mice raced down a wooden corridor toward the end of the chamber Friday night at The Falls in Columbia.
The excited guests bet money on the racing mice to raise money for the Columbia Police Department, which is in the process of fund-raising for a new K-9 dog.
In May, the department’s first police dog, Cezar, passed away from kidney failure. Cezar had been with the department for eight years and had assisted on drug cases, search warrants, missing persons and other criminal investigations with his handler, Josh Bayer.
The search for a new police dog began immediately, but in order to purchase a K-9 with the experience and skills necessary for the department, the community had to pull together.
At the end of summer, Columbia Police Chief Joe Edwards said $17,000 was needed for the fund, and the department already had $7,000 in donations and pledges at that time.
The new CPD K-9 officer will be Zach Hopkins, who was in attendance Friday night with the prospective dog during the mouse races benefit. Hopkins, who has served as an officer with the CPD for the past few years, will participate in a six-week training course with the new dog in Indiana.
Members of the community paid $10 to attend Friday’s event and could also bid on items for a silent auction — along with betting on the mice themselves as they ran through the wooden tunnel.
Columbia Mayor Kevin Hutchinson and several other officers from the community attended the fundraiser, along with local developer Joe Koppeis, who helped Edwards present Hopkins and the new dog, named Daggo, at the beginning of the evening. Daggo was then taken around to all the tables of attendees at the fundraiser.
Edwards said Tuesday the department hasn’t calculated the total amount of money raised at the benefit yet.
Anyone wishing to donate can send it to the Columbia Police Department K-9 Fund, 1020 North Main Street, Columbia, IL, 62236.
Other police dogs in the county include the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department’s Sari, handled by Jim Lansing, and Waterloo Police Department’s Ayla, handled by Trin Daws.