Ashland Police Department K9 Initiative (and two bird dogs… ;) )


Officer Nick Ovaska has loved dogs – especially working dogs, his whole life. I recently spoke with him about the Ashland Police Department K-9 Initiative, and in the process took photos of his two bird dogs Freckles & Cheeto. Freckles (who was rescued at 8 weeks old) and Cheeto work together while bird hunting – Freckles flushes, and Cheeto retrieves. They are definitely a great team, and as you see them with Nick, you know that a police canine would be in very good hands in the Ovaska family.

k9 unit fundraiser

As a police officer with the Ashland Police Department, Ovaska is attempting to fund raise for the ultimate working dog – a K9 Unit. There was an active K9 unit in the Ashland PD until the dog was retired in 2007. At the time, there was not another officer who could continue the program, but now Ovaska and his family are ready to start it over again.

An important fact: the K9 unit would not just be for the use of the Ashland Police Department. The canine would cover and assist any community in the area that requested help. This includes the entire Chequamegon Bay region – as well as south, east, and west of Ashland. The closest unit is currently in Hayward, WI, and can take weeks to be able to respond to certain events.

Ovaska says there is a misconception that police K9’s are attack dogs, but that could not be further from the truth. The canines are an extra tool for law enforcement, and serve a dual purpose.

The first purpose is for police work such as tracking, apprehension, agility, obedience, & officer protection. The second purpose of the dog is narcotic detection. Considering the current drug issues in our area, this particular skill is much needed.

In addition, from the fund raiser website:

“The dog will be a dual purpose dog for apprehension and drugs. Some of the benefits include tracking/ finding missing persons, searching for criminals fleeing the scene of a crime, drug detection, community public relations, ability to go into schools and businesses for assistance/ education and much more”.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Ashland area getting a new K9 unit, is that the dog that is chosen is specifically tweaked for the community itself. Being a smaller community, a dog that can be both an “on duty” canine, and one that can have small kids run up to it to pet it, is extremely important to Ovaska.

If all goes according to plan, a puppy will be delivered to Ovaska residence in January of 2017. This gives the family (including Nick, his wife, Teri Jo, their two young children, two dogs, and numerous goats, ducks, fish, rabbits, amoung other creatures) time to bond with the new dog. The 13 week training will then happen at the St Paul Police Department starting in March. Once Nick and the dog are done with the course, they will be certified and ready to go to work.

The fundraiser is seeking to underwrite the $30,000 needed to get a K9 unit under way.

Some of the things it will cover:

  • A K9 specific patrol vehicle & equipment
  • 13 week training school
  • The dog itself
  • Vet care
  • Ongoing training and maintenance

As part of the fundraiser, two organizations have already stepped up and pledged donations for the new dog:

Wisconsin Vestadog has agreed to donate a stab & bullet proofvest -and they will install the needed heat controls in the K9 unit squad to keep the dog comfortable and safe in all weather.

Dr Haukaas of Bay Area Animal Hospital has offered to cover 100% of vet bills for the dog while he or she is in service.

A K9 unit is something that we desperately need in this community. I’d love if you would help Nick and Teri Jo out by donating to this great cause, or at least spreading the word.

Ways you can donate:

Go Fund Me:

Donations can also be made directly to the Ashland Police Department in care of the “Ashland Police Department K9 Foundation” attn: Nicholas Ovaska, 601 Main St. W, Ashland, WI 54806.


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