HOUSTON – Representing Houston in a larger-than-life way, the non-profit organization K9s4COPs made their national debut Wednesday morning at the 125th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade.
“Working together to save our communities is the well-chosen theme of this non-profit foundation: K9s4COPs,” said NBC’s Al Roker, as he introduced the foundation.
The non-profit organization is one of 46 floats at this year’s Rose Parade. “It isn’t just apply, it is an invitation to participate,” explained Liz Lara Carreno, Executive Director of K9s4COPs. “We were thrilled; a little frightened, but thrilled.”
K9s4COPs raises money to train police dogs, then helps place them with police departments and schools across the country. They have sent out close to 60 dogs in two and a half years.
The founder of K9s4COPs says this moment before millions is humbling.
“To be such a young organization, two and a half years old, and accomplish this much and get this kind of recognition is unbelievable,” expressed Kristi Schiller, K9s4COPs Founder and Board Chair.
K9s4COPs was Schiller’s vision after she heard about an deputy losing his four-legged partner trying to stop criminals.
“Three years ago, Dec. 22, 2009, I lost partner in the line of duty chasing some burglary suspects,” said Deputy Ted Dahlin of the Precinct 4 Constable’s Office. “I made him a promise that I’d make things right. I never imaged something like this could come from that.”
The float spanned 55 feet and was covered up by organic materials like shaved coconut and corn husks.
At the helm, the organization’s mascot dog, Johnny Cash, standing at 22 feet high.
The real canine version of Johnny Cash took some time out from the parade preparations for a photo-op with some new, little fans.
The group got up at 3:30 a.m. and had to be on the float by 8 a.m. They had to be buckled into the float when they got there.
After four hours of waving, walking and riding along the 5.5 mile route at 2mph, the K9s4COPs group were happy their goal of being in the parade came true.
“It’s been an emotional week for Liz and myself and our core officers who have been with us since the beginning because the theme today is Dreams Do Come True, and it’s true if you work enough they do,” said Schiller.
The organization has raised nearly $2 million that have paid off in a big way.
Recently, one of their dogs helped take more than $6 million worth of drugs off the streets in Harris County.