By Jenna O’Donnell |
LITTLE SILVER – Will Aninowsky – age 9 – did something different for his birthday this year.
Rather than bring presents to his birthday party, Will’s friends were asked to make a donation on an online fundraising page. Between Will’s family and 18 of his friends, $1,000 was raised and used to purchase a bulletproof vest for K-9 Fuze, one of the bomb-sniffing dogs in the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office’s K-9 Unit.
Will, his parents, and several of his friends presented the donation to Sheriff Shaun Golden, Special Officer Ralph Irizzary and his partner, K-9 Fuze on Aug. 30 in Freehold. Will recalled his excitement when he met the beneficiary of his donation, newly outfitted with a bulletproof vest that will protect him during future policing.
“It made me feel amazing,” Will said. “Because I knew he would be safe because of me.” He added that all of his friends really liked visiting the sheriff’s office and meeting the dog, too.
“So that’s another good part,” he said. “Everyone was happy.”
Will first met two of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Department’s police dogs when they visited his Cub Scout troop. After learning about how the dogs protect the public, Will was inspired to help protect them. His dad, Bill Aninowsky, offered a suggestion.
“I had a really good friend in the NYPD who had clued me in that this was a really insane need – that these dogs don’t have vests,” Aninowsky said. “So I passed it on to Will and said, ‘Hey what do you think about this?’ ”
Will was happy to run with the idea and said that the good feeling he got from donating his birthday money made him want to donate to more charitable causes in the future.
His parents credited the Little Silver community as an inspiration for the idea, with more and more birthday parties calling on kids to donate to worthy causes in lieu of buying presents.
“From a parental level, this is a great idea,” Aninowsky said. “I’m proud of my son for taking on such a worthy cause.”
Sheriff Shaun Golden expressed his gratitude when accepting Will’s gift, noting how crucial it is to protect members of the MCSO K-9 unit – who are called in year-round to assist local police departments.
“Will’s birthday wish will enhance the safety of our K-9s and the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office is extremely grateful for his generosity and dedication,” said Golden in a statement.
The MCSO K-9 Unit presently consists of seven handlers and eight K-9 officers. The unit includes two explosive/patrol teams, three narcotics/patrol teams, one explosive team, one tracking team, and one narcotics team. In 2016, the K-9 Unit was called out on 144 explosive detection calls, 342 tracking calls and 318 narcotics calls. They conducted more than 150 K-9 demos.
The average cost for a canine vest is $850 to $1000. Anyone interested in donating to the MCSO’s K-9 Unit may send a check made payable to the Monmouth County Treasurer, 2500 Kozloski Road, Freehold Township, N.J, 07728, along with a letter indicating the funds are for the MCSO K-9 Donation Fund.
This article was first published in the Sept. 21-28, 2017 print edition of the Two River Times.
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