The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Benevolent Posse has kicked off its Project Deputy Dog fundraiser in hopes of raising $160,000 to add two new K-9 deputies to the Sheriff's Office.

Contributed photo, Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Benevolent Posse has kicked off Project Deputy Dog to raise $160,000 to add two new K-9 deputies to the Sheriff's Office team.

Funds would be used to purchase two additional replacement K-9s, as well as pay for unanticipated, nonbudgeted expenses related to the program, according to a spokeswoman. 

One of the sheriff's K-9s is getting close to retirement, which creates an urgent need to add an additional dog trained in patrol, tracking and bomb/explosive detection to the unit, the spokeswoman said.

Additional K-9s would also allow for two narcotics-trained and two bomb-trained dogs in the county, as well as provide round-the-clock, 365-day coverage countywide.

The new K-9 the Benevolent Posse hopes to fund would be assigned to custody operations and used for the detection of illicit drugs within the county's detention facilities.

"Our K-9 corps is an invaluable asset in the county's law enforcement efforts," said sheriff's Lt. Kevin Huddle, who supervises the department's K-9 program. "They are an extremely efficient part of our department and can accomplish feats that are impossible for our human deputies."

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Funding would also be used for the K-9s to receive basic law enforcement training; specialized training for tracking; narcotics and bomb detection; food/veterinary care; specialized equipment; and other needs, the spokeswoman said.

Project Deputy Dog is being led by Sue Pohls, Benevolent Posse board member and Solvang resident.

"This is a cause (that's) easy to get passionate about, especially for any of us who are dog lovers," she said. 

For more information about the effort or to donate, visit www.sbsheriffsposse.org.

April Charlton covers Santa Barbara County for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow her on Twitter@WordsDawn