Porterdale Police Department Sgt. Jason Cripps poses with Beau, a police dog with a specialty in narcotics detection. Beau is a popular guest at local schools and a good ambassador for the department.
COVINGTON -- It's time for the third annual Porterdale Police Benefit Motorcycle Ride, but this year's emphasis is a little different. It is the K-9 Memorial benefit and will honor all police dogs that have died during the last year.
Sgt. Jason and Holly Cripps have formed a unique non-profit foundation called We Ride to Provide, which sponsors this and other events to honor police officers and raise funds for equipment. Jason is a Porterdale Police officer and is in charge of the K-9 Unit, with a little help from his partner Beau.
"We have an annual motorcycle ride that Jason and I take part in for police officers, but no one was doing it for K-9s," Holly Cripps explained. "Being a K-9 mom, it just made sense to go in that direction. That's where God intended it to go."
So this year, the 16 police canines who died last year will be honored for their service, whether they died in the line of duty or of natural causes.
"After all, they were police officers and we'll pay tribute to them," Cripps said, enumerating the causes of death which ranged from old age and cancer and line-of-duty deaths like Po-Po, a Waynesboro K-9 who died after stepping in chemicals during a meth lab bust, and Arros of Fayette County who died of heat exhaustion after chasing two burglary suspects.
The event is set for Saturday, May 21, in Porterdale. Registration begins at 8 a.m. at the train depot on Main Street. The fee is a flat $25, regardless of whether there are passengers. Kickstands will go up at 11 a.m. for a 59.6 mile ride through the Newton County countryside.
Also, anyone with speciality vehicles such as dune buggies or classic cars is invited to join the ride.
"The ride takes about an hour and a half. We're in no hurry because we'll be there to pay tribute to these dogs," Cripps said. "Every year we ride by this pasture with four or five horses and they run along the fence with us. It's the coolest."
Cripps said there's lots of support for the event from area agencies. The ride is escorted by Newton County Sheriff's Office's Motorcycle Unit Deputies Doug Clifton and J.L. Redlinger. This year NCSO Warrants Division Deputy Terry Rogers will also bring out his black and white vehicle to the event. Covington Police Department Traffic Unit officers help with traffic control.
"This ride is not just about Porterdale. A portion of the funds raised will go to Porterdale Police Department always, but other funds will go to purchase first aid kits for K-9 officers throughout the state, as far as we can reach," Cripps said.
Earlier this year, the Ride to Provide Foundation sponsored a first aid class for K-9 officers which taught them how to administer aid to their dogs in the event of an emergency.
"My personal vet, Dr. Erica Ortiz of McDonough Animal Hospital, came down on her own time and at no cost and taught the guys what to do for everything from gunshot wounds to bee stings," Cripps said. Officers also received six P.O.S.T. credit hours and she said it is hoped a similar class can be offered again.
"We're not just going to hand them a first aid kit and not teach them how to use it," she said.
Also, throughout the year the foundation assists K-9 officers with costly equipment that may not be part of their department's budget.
"If I have a K-9 officer who calls and says, 'I don't have a leash,' or 'I need a bulletproof vest for my dog,' I'm going to try to make that happen," she said.
For more information, go to We Ride to Provide on Facebook or call Holly at 770-900-6494.