BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP (WJRT) - (10/10/19) - A Saginaw County police K-9 team is asking community members to help them win a brand new SUV.
Maverick, a 3-year-old German Shepherd, joined the Buena Vista Township Police Department about two years ago. Maverick and any costs associated with his care are paid for by donations.
The police cruiser Officer Devin Heyn and Maverick use has seen better days.
"We were given a hand-me-down car, and we've made it work," Heyn said.
Even the compartment where Maverick rides during his overnight shift is handmade.
"Our sergeant built an area for Maverick out of some local supplies from the hardware store," Heyn explained.
He also showed the two-by-fours that make up the base of Maverick's compartment.
"Plywood and then we just screwed real thin sheet metal on top of it," Heyn said.
Right now, they have a chance to win a brand new SUV, equipped with all the safety items needed for Maverick.
They are up against 29 other K-9 units from across the country in the Vested Interest in K9s contest. The same organization provided a bulletproof vest to Maverick.
Heyn said they not only want to win -- they need to win. A new SUV is not in the department's budget.
Their current SUV is a 2010 with 157,000 miles. He said many police departments like to retire police cruisers when they reach 80,000 to 100,000 miles, given the excessive use they undergo.
Heyn and Maverick's SUV also has rust, and recently had a bent rear axle replaced with a part from a junkyard. A new SUV would greatly increase officer safety.
"Right now, if I go on a call and I need Maverick, it's either I take him out of the car with me or he stays in the car. There's no in between," Heyn said.
A new SUV would have a door popper with a remote, which would allow Heyn to get his partner's help even if he can't physically open the door.
"We've been in several foot chases now where Maverick has had to stay inside the car because I've been a ways away from the vehicle, and it just doesn't make sense for me to run all the way back to the car instead of chasing the guy that's running away from us," he said.
Heyn and Maverick make their current ride work so the community can have this 'tool' to take guns, drugs and bad guys off the street.
But having the latest technology, including a proper heating and cooling system with an alarm, would be the best possible scenario.
"Right now the air vents do not reach Maverick. So whenever I need to get him air I blast the air in the front and hope he gets some through the little window," Heyn said.
Voting in the Vested Interest in K9s contest ends Oct. 31 at 8 a.m. Anyone can vote once per day. Click on the 'Related Link' with this story to vote.
Please note Heyn and Maverick are listed as the team from "Saginaw, MI." They are the only Mid-Michigan team in the contest.
If they don't win this year, they cannot enter again next year. It's their only chance to win the police cruiser valued at $50,000.