MANNINGTON — For Robin Smith, it’s one thing to walk through the city and find drug paraphernalia and complain about it, but she is a person who likes to take action.
She said the opioid problem has been visible in Mannington for years, and police have identified different places in the city where drug activity is known to take place.
“Mannington is not unlike any other small town in West Virginia,” Smith said. “We have problems with opioids and prescription drugs. We know there are pockets of drug activity. There are houses that have been identified in the City of Mannington where drugs are being trafficked.”
In response to the problem, Smith and other residents of Mannington started a GoFundMe page to fund the purchase of a K9 police officer for the city. Smith co-chairs the committee that started the page, which they call Mannington Bark Against Drugs, and said the group hopes to raise $20,000 to buy a trained police dog.
“The city doesn’t have it in their budget to buy the dog,” Smith said. “We formed a small community group to try and raise the money to try and get the dog. We’re trying to raise $20,000, and that will purchase the dog that has already been trained.”
Mannington Police Chief Jim Rigsby said having a K9 unit for the department would be a good addition to the squad.
“Our department has been needing one for a while,” Rigsby said. “They are a valuable part to police departments and officers.”
Smith said the group plans to get a dog from a kennel in Kentucky that trains dogs for this kind of service.
“By the time we get him, he will be certified as a multi-purpose dog,” Smith said. “He can be used to track as a drug dog.”
Rigsby said the dog can be trained not only to sniff out drugs, but for search and rescue purposes, as well as for officer protection. He also said an officer with the Mannington Police Department would have to complete training to handle the dog, and this individual would act as its handler once the training is finished.
“One officer takes care of the dog,” Rigsby said. “We would need to send an officer down to get trained for it. They would love to have it as soon as possible.”
According to Rigsby, the addition of a K9 unit would almost be equivalent to the hiring of another police officer.
“It is basically like having another police officer,” Rigsby said. “For an officer security standpoint, it’s incredibly beneficial.”
Smith said that even once the GoFundMe raises enough money to purchase a dog, she and other members of the committee plan to stay together to support its care taking and other needs. She said and fellow residents want to rid the city of drugs.
“Trying to look at not just the immediate future, but how we’re going to be able to support this dog,” Smith said. “It’s just a matter of trying to clean up the town again.”
The fundraising page for Mannington BAD can be found at gofundme.com/f/mannington-bad-bark-against-drugs.