The sixth annual Vernon County Sheriff’s Office 5-K-9 Run/Walk and Kids Fun Run held on Saturday, April 7. The fundraiser was blessed with near record cold temperatures for this time of the year.
Vernon County Sheriff John Spears said it was downright miserable weather for runners, walkers, spectators and organizers. The temperature outside was 15 degrees at the start of the run, which is prompting event organizers to consider moving the annual race to the month of June, instead of April in 2019 and beyond.
Only 58 people participated in this year’s race, down from 102 last year. Several people who preregistered failed to attend, the youth count was also down, but the number of furry friends along for the walking portion of the event was up.
The kids fun run, a quarter-mile route, began at 9 a.m. for children 11 and under. Participants in the youth fun run all received an award ribbon and trophies were awarded to the first-place winner. The top three winners in the boys race were (1) Kolton Peterson, (2) Thaddeus Welch and (3) Carter Welch. The three boys were also the returning trio of youth runners from 2017, with Peterson taking home the crown two years in a row.
The 5K run/walk presented medals to the top three place winners in each of seven age division for both males and females. Leah Hansen of Chaseburg won the event with a time of 20:58. She just edged out Chris Hazuga of La Crescent who finished with a time of 20:59. Finishing out the overall top 10 were: (3) Matt Long 21:51; (4) Rick Pedretti 22:27; (5) Dave Maxwell 22:52; (6) Alicia Johnson 23:27; (7) Suzie Howe 24:43; (8) Brenda Maxwell 24:48; (9) Michelle Alexander 24:53; and (10) Cody Campbell 25:06.
After the run, there was a short K-9 demonstrations with Deputy Mark Bellacero and Deputy K-9 Myk. The crowd watched as the K9 duo demonstrated how they perform as a team during a traffic stop.
In the demonstration, an unruly driver (portrayed by Vernon County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Lucas Sellers) pretended to resist arrest. A battle commenced between Sellers and Bellacero, before K9 Myk was released from the patrol car and assisted his partner by biting the arm of Sellers, who was wearing a safety suit for protection. K9 Myk released his hold on Sellers only after he was ordered by Bellacero to do so.
After the demonstration, Crume said the Vernon County K9 Unit dogs have only had to use attack mode four times, with most assailants surrendering first out of fear of being attacked. He added that when K9 Myk is used in drug related situations he barks, bites of scratches to let Bellacero know that drugs are onsite.
All proceeds from the event help benefit the K-9 unit covering costs for annual maintenance, training and equipment. The Vernon County Sheriff’s Office is currently down to one K9 Unit and is in the processing of expanding its K9 force to two.
Spears said being in charge of a K9 is a huge commitment by any officer and we now have another officer ready to step-up and take on the task allowing Vernon County to implement its second K9 unit. The department is currently looking for a second K9 to join the Vernon County team.
Vernon County has been down to one K9 Unit since former Deputy Brian James and K9 Lars relocated to Monroe County. He commended Bellacero, who has done an excellent job as Myk’s K9 commander and said it is time to get another K9 on board in Vernon County. According to Spears, K9 Myk has approximately three years left before he is retired and the county doesn’t want to be without a K9 Unit or replacing its K9 dogs at the same time.