COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Guardians of the Night race was created to raise the money needed to purchase items for the K-9 team.
The K-9s are trained to find illegal drugs and get them off the streets, find missing adults and children, detect bombs, protect their handlers and are able to run, chase and apprehend criminals in places too difficult for a human to maneuver.
"Their sense of smell is the biggest thing we use. It's so sensitive they can smell things that we can't. If it's missing people, if it's illegal drugs, if it's bad guys who ran away, they can sense where they are before we can and they can tell us through their body language that they are getting near the bad guy," Lt. Kevin Hoover with the Richland Co. Sheriff's Department said.
Items purchased from the funds raised by this race include collars, leads, food, and a custom fit ballistic vest. The goal is to enable these incredible dogs to have the best equipment available while they work to make sure families, homes, and property are safe and secure.
"We get them the best ballistic vest that they can get. Because when we send them into a building to catch a bad guy, it's hard for us. We don't want to do that, but we know just like us we have to go places we don't want to go, so do they," says Lt. Hoover.
The K-9 unit currently deploys 18 K-9 teams. The Guardians of the Night event is in memory of Fargo. In 2011 after an armed robbery, 6-year-old Fargo tracked down the suspects and then was killed by one of them.
Deputy Warren Cavanaugh and others tried to save the K-9 but could not. Fargo was the first K-9 to lose his life in the line of duty in South Carolina history. This race is now run in his honor.
The money raised also goes to vet care - something Lt. Hoover relied on last year when his K-9 Arko was critically ill.
"His stomach had flipped and it was pretty distended from one side and he wasn't doing well. We got him to the vet and within an hour he was in emergency surgery," says Lt. Hoover.
Although it was uncertain, Arko finally pulled through.
Sadly, not all K-9s make it. In fact, the Guardians of the Night event is in memory of Fargo who was killed in the line of duty in 2011 after he tracked down an armed robber. That robber shot Fargo three times. Despite his soon-to-be fatal injuries, Fargo returned to his partner - as trained.
The Guardians of the Night K-9 5K run and walk is Saturday, July 28 at 10:30 at night. Meet at The Plex at The Village at Sandhill which is in the northeast part of Columbia.
You can register right now online at www.StrictlyRunning.com.