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Why Flowery Branch is rebooting its K9 program after being dormant for a decade
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Flowery Branch Police Office Casey Charlton and Jini, a German Shepherd, will reboot the dormant K9 program for the Flowery Branch Police Department. Provided by Chris Hulsey

Being a police K9 handler is like being a nurse or a teacher, Flowery Branch Police Chief Chris Hulsey said.

Not everybody is cut out for it.

But with officer Casey Charlton and 16-month-old German Shepherd, Jini, the Flowery Branch Police Department is set to restart its K9 program after roughly a decade of dormancy.

“Everybody can’t be a teacher. It’s like a calling, and we really found that in Casey,” Hulsey said, as Charlton previously worked with animal control.

The Flowery Branch City Council approved a $20,000 request Thursday, Aug. 4, to reboot the program, which originally started in 2008.

The budget supplied with the proposal showed the costs would be for the dog, kennel supplies, K9 unit vehicle modifications, veterinary care and other equipment.

According to the proposal paperwork, the K9 program was active for roughly four years before it stopped due to a lack of a K9 handler.

But with an uptick in entering autos and other crimes that might necessitate a tracking dog, Hulsey said it was time to act.

“Lots of times, the officers will get on scene, and the suspect has run,” the chief said.

Hulsey said a tracking dog would also be helpful when finding critically missing people, such as small children and at-risk adults.

Without a K9 unit, Flowery Branch Police in the past would need assistance from a surrounding agency.

And the chief knows that Jini can be a tool to ingratiate the police department with the community.

“We want to get Jini out there in the schools (and) when we have block parties,” Hulsey said.

With the approval from the City Council, the department will pick up Jini the second week of September. Charlton and Jini will have roughly another month of training, meaning Jini will likely go into service by the middle of October.