By The Itawamba County Times
In a 3-2 decision, the board voted to give Mantachie’s remaining drug dog to the Itawamba County Sheriff’s Department.
It was a decision that wasn’t made easily as two aldermen – Tim Jones and Matt Fennel – voted against giving the dog away, claiming the people of the town had invested in both its training and upkeep.
Timmy “Red” Spradlin made the motion to declare the dog surplus, to be given to the county’s sheriff’s department. His motion was seconded and carried through votes from aldermen Mike Horton and Wayne Guin.
Police Chief Richard Erickson requested the dog be declared surplus and given over to the county’s sheriff’s department, which already utilizes two drug dogs. Erickson said county law enforcement was better equipped to handle the costly canine program and would allow the town use of a drug dog whenever it was requested.
Erickson said the request was based solely on cost.
“The budget for the canine is overwhelming for such a small department,” he told the board.
Mayor Butler agreed the cost of keeping the dog, which required the usual feeding and vet bills that come with caring for an animal, along with bi-annual training for officer Wilton Cooper, the dog’s handler, was high.
The dog was originally purchased through funds raised by former police chief Terry Jones. Both its purchase, the purchase of necessary equipment and the training of officer Cooper was funded by donations from Mantachie residents.
Although alderman Jones didn’t argue about the cost of keeping the dog being high, he expressed his concerns over giving away something purchased through charity.
“The dog was purchased through donations from the people of Mantachie,” he said, suggesting that giving the dog away was a betrayal of trust. He added that several arrests have been made with the dog’s help and that the animal was a deterrent against violence against the town’s officers.