August 13, 2009 in City

Teen’s gift helps keep K-9s safe

Girl donates $1,200 for heat alarm devices
By The Spokesman-Review
Mike Prager photo

Emily Thies, 15, gives a rub to Ekko, a Spokane County sheriff’s K-9, who will now be protected from overheating in a closed patrol car thanks to a donation from Thies. She is holding a citizen commendation she received Wednesday from Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
(Full-size photo)

Emily Thies, a 15-year-old high school student, has donated her pet-sitting money to help protect the K-9 dogs that work with Spokane County sheriff’s deputies.

“I love animals,” she said.

Her $1,200 donation paid for two devices that will help keep patrol dogs from overheating in parked patrol cars on hot days.

It also earned her a citizen commendation Wednesday from Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

Thies’ love of animals dates to grade school, when she began saving her money to buy a car when she went to college, said her mother, Betsy Thies.

But while volunteering for the Humane Society in Rapid City, S.D., a few years ago, Emily Thies used some of her savings to pay for surgery for a small dog that had been injured.

She and her family moved to Spokane, and she earns up to $20 a day caring for pets in her Five Mile Prairie neighborhood.

“I thought it would be cool to donate something that someone could use and that could help the dogs,” said the Gonzaga Prep student.

Thies said at first she wanted to donate money for bulletproof vests for the dogs, but when her family contacted the Sheriff’s Office, they learned that vests on K-9s are not practical. The Sheriff’s Office suggested the heat protection devices for patrol cars.

According to the deputies, a closed passenger compartment holding a K-9 can overheat even with the engine idling and the air conditioner running. The dogs are typically left in patrol cars when a deputy is occupied with other duties, but the engine and air conditioner are left on.

Each new Heat Alarm Pro device has a fan that is attached to the rear window and a pager device for the K-9 officer. If the temperature inside the car reaches 90 degrees, the device automatically rolls down the rear windows and turns on an exhaust fan. It also sends an alarm to the officer.

K-9 Deputy John Cook said the device has already averted overheating of his dog, Ekko, while he was away from the car training with other K-9 officers.

Without the device, Cook said, Ekko could have suffered heat stroke or died.

Betsy Thies said she is proud of her daughter’s generosity. “She just saw a need,” she said.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email