Eatery dishes out help for police dogs
Michel Nolan, Staff Writer
Sharon Gaitan Blechinger hopes community support goes to the dogs.
“Dollars for Dogs,” that is.
Now in its third year, “Dollars for Dogs” is a fundraiser adopted by Blechinger’s restaurant, The Mexico Cafe, to raise money to expand the San Bernardino Police Department’s canine unit.
“The dogs are such a good tool for the Police Department in reducing crime in the city. When they are pursuing a suspect, that puts one less human in jeopardy,” says Blechinger, who along with police Lt. Gwendolyn Waters, doggedly leads a pack of local supporters in beefing up the department’s understaffed unit.
Waters, a former dog handler for the Police Department, says the dogs make the department more effective when serving
Podcast: One Voice Q&A with Sharon Gaitan Blechinger and Lt. Gwendolyn Waters.
“They can conduct searches more thoroughly and can catch suspects more easily,” she says. “Dangerous suspects who would fight an officer will surrender to a dog.”
Throughout the day on March 26, volunteers and police officers will take over The Mexico Cafe, serving the public by hosting, tending bar, taking orders, and busing tables.
All the money raised goes to add a new dog to the department’s existing three-dog team.
Eventually, Blechinger hopes to add a fifth dog to get the department back to an adequate number of dogs and handlers for a police department the size of San Bernardino’s.
“Anything we get goes directly to the canine unit,” Blechinger says. “Realistically, we’d like to at least match the $10,000 we got last year. We’re going to have the dogs – Elroy, Zeke and Primo – and their handlers as ambassadors of the place, meeting and greeting people.”
Blechinger and The Mexico Cafe patrons helped purchase Elroy and Primo.
“We were taken aback by how generous the people of San Bernardino are,” Blechinger says.