In late 1997, a group of citizens formed the Columbia Citizens Action Committee as a watchdog association. Membership was open to all local residents. The goal was to take interest in the methodology of the local government and bring Council the concerns and questions for all residents in Columbia. The group was formed and incorporated as a 501 C4 Non-profit organization. In 2002 the K-9 campaign broke from its parent organization and reformed as its own 501 C-3 organization. This became permanent and official in 2007.
After Council applied for a grant to acquire a K-9 for the Borough Police Department and their application was denied, the Columbia Citizens Action Committee, under the leadership of Mayor Rose Welsh, requested the borough’s permission to raise money to purchase a K-9 for the Police Department.
Once permission was granted in February of 1998, the campaign began almost immediately in a zealous fund raising crusade. Local elementary school children entered a poster contest sponsored by the C.C.A.C and the winners were awarded a U.S. Savings Bond for their efforts. The project expanded as the elementary schools began holding their own fund raising projects for the police K-9.
As a result of all of these efforts, the C.C.A.C was able to pay for Officer Amor, the first Columbia K-9, as well as his training and the transportation expenses of his handler, Officer David Schopf.
The group members offered to continue to pay K-9 expenses as long as the funds lasted. Eventually, the project fund was escalated by continuing fund raisers, such as the K-9 Golf Tournament, and private donations . The Columbia K-9 Campaign held at least two fund raisers each year, and Officer Mann and Max (the 4th K-9) presented many public demonstrations to schools, scout troops, and other organizations to boost awareness and support.
Officer Amor was Columbia’s first K-9. Officer Amor was purchased in 1998 and he traveled with his handler, Officer Schopf, to Texas for training. Later, Amor continued his training Bethlehem, PA, before passing away suddenly in 2003 from an undetected birth defect.
Officer Ciro served as Columbia’s second K-9 officer. He was purchased in 2001 from Castle K-9 in Mechanicsburg, PA. Personnel reasons required the borough to return Ciro to his supplier. During his term, his handler, Officer Petrosky, found a veterinarian at Landisville Animal Hospital who provided Ciro’s care services free of charge.
Officer Cezar, Columbia’s third K-9, was purchased from Castle Kennels in 2004. Cezar’s continued training was held at the Castle Training Center along with his handler, Officer Mann. Officer Mann also used the services of the Landisville Animal Hospital, saving the Campaign considerable funds. Sadly, Officer Cezar passed away suddenly on 12/16/05.
Officer Max was the fourth K-9 officer to serve Columbia. Max was purchased from Castle Kennels in late 2006. Officer Max and his handler, Officer Mann, did all of his continued training at the Castle Training Center. Max received free vet services from Landisville Animal Hospital and Officer Mann was able to obtain a $500 gift certificate from GIANT FOODS to cover Max’s food expenses. At the February 13, 2012 council meeting, Mayor Lutz thanked Dr. Duple, Landisville Animal Hospital, Veterinarian to Officer Max, and presented her with a plaque thanking her for all the care and services rendered for K-9 Officer Max. The Borough deeply appreciates these donated services. Officer Mann and K-9 Officer Max, as well as Police Chief Brommer, Officer Brent Keyser and Connie Beury, Chair of the K-9 Campaign also attended the meeting and offered their deep gratitude and thanks as well to Dr. Duple.
Officer Max retired in early 2014 and passed away in late March 2014 from cancer. The Borough has not decided whether it would like to have another K-9 at this time.