With help from brewery fundraiser, Cayce adds another police K9

Posted 2/20/24

The Cayce Police Department has officially welcomed its newest four-legged member.

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With help from brewery fundraiser, Cayce adds another police K9


The Cayce Police Department has officially welcomed its newest four-legged member.

On Feb. 20, multiple law enforcement agencies and city officials gathered at Steel Hands Brewing to welcome Nero, a Belgian Malinois/German shepherd mix as the department’s latest K9 addition, funded through the brewery’s 2023 Steel Paws fundraiser.

“We pride ourselves on the positive community safety. Cayce is the best place to live, work and play because of our professional public safety,” said Mayor Elise Partin.

Steel Paws started when Cayce Police Chief Chris Cowan approached the local brewery about creating a sustainable fundraiser to raise money for the department’s K9 efforts. The event is a partnership between the brewery, Cayce, Jim Hudson Automotive Group and the Richland and Lexington County sheriff’s departments.

Nero is the fourth dog to join the department, with Cowan stating that they’ll soon add two more dogs, one in April and June, when they complete training.

“Our goal is to try and make the city as safe as it possibly can be,” Cowan said. “The way we do that is making sure that we have the resources that we need to be a full service agency.”

The 3.5-year-old K9 joined handler Justin Hartley, who has been with the department a little over a year, after completing their five-week training at Astro Kennels in Simpsonville. Nero is trained as a tracking, narcotics and article detection/recovery dog.

Hartley said the biggest challenge during training was bonding with him and getting him to listen.

The cost to get and train Nero was around $10,000, according to Cowan, with the chief adding that one of the additional dogs joining later in the year will cost around $15,000.

Not every dog has the same training as Nero, with the chief explaining that the department has dogs trained in detecting explosives, criminal apprehension and patrol. The goal is to be able to provide multiple resources to the community.

During the announcement, Hartley gave a demonstration of Nero’s skills, having the dog search for a piece of cord, a dollar bill and a flashlight. Cowan told the Chronicle that Nero is trained to detect human scent on objects, and unlike some tracking dogs, does not need to be put onto the smell beforehand.

Hudson, Cayce’s therapy dog, is named after his human counterpart. Jim Hudson, owner of his namesake auto group. The dog spends his days visiting the community, schools and responding to scenes where his presence may be needed. His handler, Mandy Fournier, said his rewards are pets and that he will often sleep on the floor of her office when not working.

The fundraiser has also benefited the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, which has been able to purchase an additional K9, adding CJ, a crisis intervention dog.

“He is our first crisis intervention dog and because of that, it has allowed us to add another layer into our comprehensive wellness for our deputies,” said Maria Yturria, deputy chief with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. “We need to take care of our deputies, as well as our pets and our community.”

cayce police department, steel paws, steel hands brewing, jim hudson automotive, lexington county law enforcement, richland county sheriff's department


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