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Fallen officer’s legacy lives on

Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.

For eight-year old Ella Weiland of Kronenwetter, Wis., Wednesday, March 22, 2017, should have been just another Wednesday. She should have gone to school, probably complained about too much homework or enjoyed time playing with her friends and spent the day as any carefree eight-year-old should have. But Wednesday, March 22, 2017, was far from just another Wednesday. That was the day a lone gunman went on a shooting rampage that claimed the lives of four innocent people, including Jason Weiland, a near 20-year veteran of the Metro Everest Police Force, and Ella's father.

During an emotional and inspiring eulogy at her father's funeral service, Ella's sister, Anna, challenged those in attendance to "be amazing." "All the amazing people in the world will always outnumber the criminals," said Anna Weiland.

Det. Weiland's brother-in-law, Sean Dumais, operates a dog rescue facility in Kronenwetter, Wis., near Wausau. In an effort to help keep his fallen brother-in-law's memory alive, Dumais decided that offering a police K-9 to a deserving police force would fit that bill. The trouble was, many of the area law enforcement agencies lacked the resources to adequately train and maintain a police dog. Dumais needed to find a way to provide a dog who was already trained and ready to go to work. After a great deal of research, Dumais found Jeff Minder with Top Tier K-9, in Madison Fla.

Minder was quick to get on board with the idea and offered his assistance to Dumais. Minder had begun training a Belgian Malinois puppy and Minder felt this pup may be a good choice for Dumais' plan. One request Dumais had for the first dog to be donated was that he be named Jason, after the late Det. Weiland. Minder quickly obliged and the young Malinois' new name became "Jason." Over the next months, as Minder continued K-9 Jason's training, Minder began to realize Jason was going to be a very special police dog. K-9 Jason is an energetic and very affectionate dog … until he perceives someone as a threat. Then K-9 Jason becomes laser-focused on one task, to protect his fellow officer at all costs and take down the "bad guy." Dumais quickly sees the same spirit in Jason as he saw in his brother-in-law. "He [K-9 Jason] has the same passion [as my brother-in-law]," said Dumais. "Jason is happy to be doing what he's doing. [Det. Weiland] absolutely loved his work. For him, it was family, job and the Packers; usually in that order." K-9 Jason has been completing his training with Mark Raddatz, the officer who will be his handler with the Rhinelander (Wis.) Police Department (RPD). When K-9 Jason's police career has come to a close, he will enjoy his retirement with Officer Raddatz.

When K-9 Jason officially joins the RPD in the next few weeks, he will have the same badge number, #1274, as his namesake and will be fully trained in all areas of police work, including narcotics detection and tracking. Not only will K-9 Jason be donated to the RPD, he will be joining the department, fully prepared with all the needed equipment, including a vehicle. This has been made possible through generous donations made to Dumais' Crossroads K-9s For Cops program. "It's our plan to donate the 'whole package' to a police department every year," said Dumais.

With help and guidance from Minder, Dumais has already begun training next year's potential K-9 Cop another Belgian Malinois named "Thor." It is Dumais' goal to learn how to completely train future police dogs himself.

Watching K-9 Jason work through his paces, it is easy to see that he is sure to "be amazing" as a K-9 officer with the RPD. There could be no more fitting tribute to a fallen officer, nor a better way to meet the challenge of a little girl.

More information about Crossroads K-9s For Cops can be found at www.crossroadsk9rescue.org/k-9sforcops.

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