Officials will consider allowing Twin Lakes police officer to keep K-9 partner in upcoming vote
Updated: 4:51 p.m. on July 2, 2020
TWIN LAKES, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A K-9 officer in Twin Lakes doesn't have to part with his police K-9 just yet.
Officer Joe Patla got a new job.
Village leaders voted to hand over K-9 Rex to a new handler.
Now, after an outpouring of support from the community, officials will reconsider in a vote on Monday, July 6.
Posted: 5:15 p.m. on July 1, 2020
TWIN LAKES, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Twin Lakes community is rallying behind a local officer and his police K-9 after village officials voted to give his four-legged partner a new handler.
Officer Joe Patla is leaving for a new position.
He offered to purchase police K-9 Rex from the department, but his offer was denied.
Now the community is rallying behind him to keep them together.
“It just doesn’t feel right,” said Tonya Olsen, a Twin Lakes resident who supports Rex staying with Officer Patla.
The two have been a team for the last four years- -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Officer Patla is the only handler and family Rex has ever known.
“That’s really hard,” said Olsen. “It’s like taking a baby away from its mom.”
Officer Patla is leaving for a new position with another department.
The Twin Lakes Village Board denied his offer to stay on part-time in order to keep Rex, and they also won’t allow him to purchase Rex.
“We’ve made the decision that we’re going to retain Rex as a member of our community,” said Twin Lakes Police Department’s chief, Adam Grosz. “We’re going to assign a new handler to Rex. That new handler will go to training with Rex and become certified to become a K-9 officer.”
It was Officer Patla’s idea to start the K-9 program, raising all the funds with the help of the community through donations.
“We created a separate K-9 fund and gathered donations from the community for that fund, but it was always under the agreement that the village would retain ownership of the animal throughout their career,” said Chief Grosz.
Supporters point out the village didn’t purchase Rex through taxpayer dollars, and they should let the community decide what happens to him.
“The village told Patla that they were not going to fund the K-9. So, it was up to him to get the funding for the dog. And that’s exactly what he did, so we all support him,” said Olsen. “We would prefer that K-9 Rex stay with Officer Patla.”
Officer Patla’s last official day with the department is July 2.
Chief Grosz says Rex will be temporarily housed in a kennel until they assign a new handler, who will then undergo training for 3-4 weeks for recertification.
A GoFundMe for officer Patla and Rex has been created. They are hoping to raise $10,000 dollars in addition to Officer Patla’s contribution of $6,000 dollars in order to present it to the Twin Lakes Village Board to fund a new dog in exchange for allowing K-9 Rex and Officer Patla to stay together.
You can find a full statement from Officer Patla below: