LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18)– The Lexington Police Department and city officials broke ground Monday on a new 3,800 square-foot facility for the Canine Unit.
“Just like their human counterparts, our K9 officers work and train each day to keep Lexington safe,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “This new, long-awaited kennel will allow the Canine Unit to expand, while providing a more comfortable and efficient space for officers.”
The new kennel is being built on land owned by the city near Old Frankfort Pike and Alexandria Drive. It will replace the existing kennel at 1313 Old Frankfort, which was built by officers in 1968 and currently houses 12 canines. A 13thcanine in the unit stays at its handler’s home because there is no room at the kennel.
“The Lexington Police Canine Unit was the first of its kind in Kentucky, and our current facility is showing its age,” Chief Lawrence Weathers said. “In recent years, we’ve had to rely on space heaters in the winter to keep the dogs’ water bowls from freezing. The new facility will be less stressful for the dogs and hopefully extend their length of service.”
Construction plans for the new K9 facility call for 20 individual kennels designed to decrease visual contact between the dogs. Visual stimulus in a kennel can sometimes lead to excessive activity and injuries. The new building will also include larger office space, dedicated rooms for veterinary care and food storage, and a locker room with a shower.
Lexington’s K9 officers have varying skills that include general patrol tracking, and detection of narcotics, explosives, or Vapor Wake. Officers are certified annually by the U.S. Police Canine Association. Dogs typically serve six to eight years before they are retired.
In 2018, the Canine Unit was called out for 800 incidents, 66 percent of which involved narcotics. Officers provided sweeps of major public venues and events.
The Urban County Council budgeted funds for the K9 facility over the past two fiscal years. Designed by Integrity Architecture, the building will be made largely of pre-fabricated metal and sealed concrete. Fuelband LLC of Lexington is the contractor.
Construction is expected to be complete this fall.