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  • Writer's pictureSam Orlando

Between a Fund and a Hard Place: Augusta Co Sheriff K9 Rico's Ongoing Battle for Retirement

Written by: Michael Phillips

VERONA, VA – Just when the fervent supporters of K9 Rico thought they had navigated through the stormy waters, a new twist in the saga has emerged.

The advocacy group, Blue Ridge Canine Services, announced with jubilation that they have successfully reached the $19,000 fundraising target aimed to ensure the early retirement of K9 Rico from the Augusta County Sheriff's Office. This achievement was supposed to allow the loyal canine to live with his former handler, a fate much desired by the community which contrasts with the dog’s current state, described as being "caged in limbo."

However, Breaking Through News has obtained an email from Augusta County Sheriff Donald L. Smith, adding another layer of complexity to the unfolding narrative. The email addressed to Dennis Reynolds, K9 Rico's former handler, places a monetary value on a carport installed at Reynolds' residence for the canine's use. The carport, as per the sheriff's calculations, is valued at $4,910. Factoring in a five-year depreciation, the remaining value of the carport stands at $3,245.

Sheriff Smith provides Reynolds with two options: purchase the carport for the aforementioned amount or allow the County Maintenance staff to remove it. While the email does not directly link the carport situation to K9 Rico's retirement, a confidential source has relayed to Breaking Through News that the sheriff has communicated to the former deputy that the dog's retirement is contingent upon the resolution of this carport matter.

This new financial wrinkle appears to echo past criticisms where the County was accused of imposing what some deemed as "ransom demands" to retrieve animals. The analogy seems all the more poignant as the stakes involve not just a building structure, but the well-being of a faithful K9 who has served the community with diligence.

The juxtaposition of these two neighboring counties, Augusta and Botetourt, has been a focal point, especially given the divergent paths their respective K9s named Rico have taken toward retirement. While Botetourt County celebrated their K9 Rico's retirement as him "hanging up his uniform to pursue other canine interests," Augusta County's situation seems marred in bureaucracy and financial entanglements.

The revelations also raise deeper questions: How should public assets, like carports, be managed post-retirement of service dogs? Should handlers bear the costs, or should these structures be seen as part of the legacy and service of the K9 officers and their handlers?

The community waits with bated breath, hoping for a swift resolution that would allow K9 Rico to enjoy a well-deserved rest, free from the shackles of financial and bureaucratic hurdles.

As the August 18 deadline looms for the carport decision, one can only hope that both sides will find a common ground that prioritizes the welfare of K9 Rico.

Breaking Through News will continue to monitor this evolving story closely and provide updates as they emerge.

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