A grant program will provide for safety canines for schools in Holmes County through an agreement with the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO).

The Holmes District School Board approved the agreement during a meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 12. Three dogs will be provided for the District to provide gun detection and therapy services. They will be handled by a school resource officer and resemble a friendly family dog. 

Holmes District was one of 21 school districts awarded the opportunity, which is a non-competitive grant. The grant was for $113,000. Holmes District budgeted $61,000 for the program and is reportedly waiting on some documentation and dog certifications from HCSO. 

“Once grant monies are secured, the School Board will compensate the Sheriff for the purchase of materials, training, fees, care, and canines for the up to the maximum amount allocated in the grant. The Sheriff will provide invoices for service rendered,” the agreement said. “The Sheriff will procure the canines, materials, training, fees, and maintenance of the canines. The Sheriff will ensure that all canines will be certified in gun detection and therapy services by an approved accrediting agency and maintain appropriate recertifications, to include training required for School Resource Deputies handling the canines.”

All canines must be certified as able to interact with children and having completed behavior and temperament training.

“The very first thing we questioned is a dog is a living creature, which is a perishable. What happens five, six, seven years down the road–which is about the service life of a dog?” Superintendent Buddy Brown said. “We were kind of hesitant at first but it ending up being one of those deals where we had nothing to lose.”

The agreement said the sheriff will “ensure the humane disposition of the canine and any proceeds for the sale of the animal will be returned to the Department of Education” upon “determination that any of the canines are no longer able to serve.”

Brown said the dogs’ presence at Holmes schools is still projected to be a year out since they have to undergo training. 

“They’re there to be a friendly dog that kids can reach out (to),” Brown said.

Holmes District officials are reaching out to other school districts to see how they’re going about the program. 


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