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Thornton family donates gifts to police dogs

Lee Thornton, left, accepts a plaque for his family's donations to the K-9 unit from Lt. Nathan Beard, right, with Madison Police Department. Steven Thornton and Patricia Thornton look on. (CONTRIBUTED)
Lee Thornton, left, accepts a plaque for his family’s donations to the K-9 unit from Lt. Nathan Beard, right, with Madison Police Department. Steven Thornton and Patricia Thornton look on. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON — A local family has rewarded some very loyal members of the Madison Police Department — the K-9 unit.

Police Chief Larry Muncey recently presented a plaque to Madison residents Lee Thornton, Steven Thornton and Patricia Thornton (Steven’s wife) for their contributions to the police dogs that assist Madison officers.

The Thorntons’ outreach actually started last December. Following their Christmas tradition, the family doesn’t buy gifts for each other but ‘adopts’ a worthy cause for the season.

“They are huge animal lovers and wanted to do something for our police dogs and their safety,” Lt. Nathan Beard said.

Originally, the Thorntons were interested in buying ballistic vests for the K-9s. However, after researching that equipment, they discovered that many police departments have the vests but don’t use them. “The vests are hot. It’s hard on dogs in this climate, but our dogs do use vests for the SWAT team,” Beard said.

The family opted to give equipment for harnesses that the dogs use while tracking. “These harnesses have a cooling pack, like an ice pack, that cools the dog,” Beard said. All three dogs in the K-9 unit now have cooling packs, along with other supplies.

Currently, the Madison K-9 unit includes Arco, handled by Officer Patrick Hamilton; Atos, assigned to Officer Jonathan Muecke; and Rico by Officer Jesse Scroggins. Another police dog, Gunny, recently died of kidney disease; Officer Jason Bolden managed Gunny.

The police department gladly will accept other donations for the dogs. “In today’s world with budget constraints, the K-9s are a living breathing thing so they’re subject to colds or an eye scratch and have to go to vet,” Beard said. “That expense must come from the K-9 budget.”

Beard expressed the department’s gratitude for the Thorntons’ “generosity, (which) brought to life the true meaning of Christmas … their giving to others and not to themselves. Their donation not only helped the K-9 unit but also the City of Madison.”

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