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SPD K-9 merchandise being sold

This image shows Salem Police K-9s Simon, left, and Argo with tumblers available for purchase through the online store on the their website at spdk9.com. (Image provided by Patrolman Mike Garber)

SALEM — Area residents and Salem Police K-9 fans can support Simon and Argo by cruising their new website at spdk9.com and visiting the online store to buy tumblers, T-shirts or even stickers.

Starting today, they can even cruise on down to the Salem Super Cruise to buy merchandise in person at the Salem Police K-9 tent in front of city hall at the corner of Pershing and South Broadway.

Either way, all proceeds help support the needs of the K-9 program through the Salem Police Department K-9 Fund held at the Salem Community Foundation.

Since the fund was established in 2015, K-9 handlers Mike Garber and Steve LaRosa have actively promoted awareness and raised funds to purchase equipment, training, education, and cover medical costs for Salem’s K-9s.

Garber, who handles Simon, the department’s first K-9, said the website launched in April includes information about Simon and Argo, their training, their community visits and tons of photos.

The online store on the website launched May 29. Merchandise available for purchase includes three different size tumblers in three different colors, T-shirt designs in six different colors and custom die-cut Simon and Argo stickers.

Shoppers can search the products, make their choices and pay using PayPal, credit card or debit card. For shipping, they can choose the $8 flat fee to have the package delivered home. The shipping is free for orders over $100.

Shoppers also have the option of free pickup at the Salem Police Department from noon to 11 p.m. Mondays or 4 to 11 p.m. Fridays. Pickups can be made at the department entrance off of Pershing Street with the order number.

Garber said they waited to really advertise the store because they wanted to make sure it was working properly and “there were no hiccups.”

The number of orders has already hit 69 and continues to climb. He said the majority of the orders aren’t even from Salem. Orders have been shipped to 24 different states, including Hawaii and California. He attributes some of the attraction from outside the area to the Facebook Live Simon Sunday program, which has viewers from all over the world, even the Czech Republic where Argo was born. Simon was born in Holland.

Garber said he was surprised they sold more items outside of Salem than in Salem because the K-9 unit has had such strong support from the community.

He’s expecting to see a lot of locals during the Salem Super Cruise. Besides selling the current merchandise, they’ll have some of the older merchandise at discount prices. He also said Police K9 Association will be represented with merchandise, too. The Salem K-9 teams are members of the Police K9 Association so they benefit from that organization.

Garber thanked Jos Cole Designs for doing the laser etching on the tumblers and Promos Unlimited for doing the T-shirts. There’s a parallel sale of shirts on the Promos Unlimited website for youth sizes and sizes 2x and bigger.

He also thanked Melissa Costa, grant coordinator for the Salem Community Foundation, for all her work with the K-9 fund and for building the website and store.

He, LaRosa and Salem Police Chief J.T. Panezott have all said over the years that the K-9 unit would not exist if it wasn’t for the support of the community. The K-9 fund pays for the dogs, their equipment, training, vet costs, food, boarding, anything the dogs need. The dogs live with their handlers. The city covers the salaries and benefits for the handlers.

Panezott said he was shocked at how successful the online store has been so far and the fact that it’s not just local people, but people from all over.

“This is another way that we’ll be able to sustain our program indefinitely,” he said.

“Everyone involved with the Salem Police Department K-9 Fund makes sure that each dollar received is dedicated to the safety of K-9s Simon and Argo, and also enhances the overall mission of Salem’s K-9 unit. We are extremely grateful for the generosity of individuals, organizations, and businesses who contribute to the K-9 Fund,” Costa said.

Contributions to the K-9 Fund may be made through the PayPal “Donate Now” button on the K-9 website or by sending a check to: Salem Community Foundation, Attn: SPD K-9 Fund, P.O. Box 553, Salem, Ohio 44460.

“It is really exciting to have K-9 Simon and Argo-themed merchandise for sale via the new spdk9.com website. People in Salem and across the country following “Simon Sunday” on Facebook Live have been busy purchasing the K-9 Supporter T-shirts and stainless steel tumblers. The website store is a terrific fundraiser for the K-9 unit,” Costa said.

“We just want to thank everybody for their support,” Garber said, adding “the community is making us thrive as the best K-9 unit we can be. That lets us provide the best protection for them.”

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