Hundreds flock to Nocatee for K-9s United running events

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Nearly 600 runners and hundreds of spectators helped K-9s United raise an estimated $40,000 on Saturday, April 14, at its annual morning of 5Ks, 9Ks and "fun runs" in Nocatee.

The Jacksonville-based nonprofit organization provides support and equipment for K-9 law enforcement officers, their partners and departments. About 10 K-9 handlers and 15 K-9 officers attended this year’s fundraiser. John Mitaly of the Jasper County Sheriff's office in South Carolina brought his K-9 partner, Luna, and even ran in the 5K. Complete results for the races can be found at http://my2.raceresult.com/95182/results?lang=en.

Debbie Johnson founded the charity after Baron, a St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office K-9 officer, was killed in the line of duty in 2014. According to Johnson, the organization’s initial priority was to help Florida law enforcement officers develop safe and effective K-9 programs, but as its base of support has grown, the organization has been able to extend elsewhere in the country. Its most recent donations went not only to the police department in Lawtey, Florida, but also to agencies in Archie, Missouri, and Montville, Connecticut.

"Every officer should have what's essential to serve, protect and thrive," Johnson said. "Sadly, just last week, we saw a Massachusetts officer killed and his K-9 partner critically wounded in the face and neck by a man with a history of more than 100 arrests.

"We can't eliminate all the dangers our law enforcement heroes face on the street, but we want to eliminate every risk to their safety we can," she continued. "We can't do that without our supporters and we appreciate every donation to our mission, large or small."

Visit www.k9sunited.org to learn more information.

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