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Wausau Police welcomes "Santo"


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- Wausau Police officers have a new K-9 helper. Captain Ben Bliven says the new four-legged officer was brought to Wausau last weekend for his initial orientation.  “Santo is our newest addition to the police department. He is a two-and-a-half year old German Shepherd, and his partner will be Shawn Fritsch, who is our newest canine handler.”

Santo and officer Shawn Fritsch will be leaving this weekend for Denver, Indiana to train for six weeks before going on patrol together.

It costs police departments anywhere from ten to thirteen thousand dollars to acquire new K-9’s. Bliven says Santo was purchased with a grant they received from a professional football player’s foundation that focuses on police dogs.  “We were able to purchase Santo with the funding that we received from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation grant that we received back in December.”

The Wausau Police Department now has four dogs, but Bliven says the time is right to add Santo. “This will be our fourth canine. We have three others. Two of them are getting up there in age, so you know they’re probably very close to retirement within probably six to twelve months, of course, who knows exactly how long they’re going to be able to be out on patrol, but we hope to keep them as long as we can. With that in mind, we wanted to try to maintain our level of canines.”

Bliven says there are currently no fundraising efforts or grant applications pending for the next K-9 that would replace a retiring dog.