Valerie Shaffer, 8, meets Ali, Sheriff Deputy Kevin Hertweck's new K-9, for the first time at the Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Command Post in Evansville, Ind. on Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 25, 2012. After Linville told Shaffer Hertweck's dog was killed in the line of duty on Nov. 3, 2011, Shaffer raised $1,331 on her own to get the Sheriff's department a new dog. An additional $1,877 was sent to the Sheriff's department with Shaffer's name on it for the dog. Shaffer presented the money to the Sheriff's Department and met the new K-9, Al,i who began working the streets on Wednesday night. (AP Photo/ The Evansville Courier & Press, Erin McCracken)
Updated: January 26, 2012 10:59PM
EVANSVILLE (AP) — An 8-year-old Indiana girl saddened by the death of a police dog went door to door collecting donations in a peanut butter jar, and eventually raised $3,200 that helped the local sheriff buy a replacement.
Vanderburgh County Sheriff Eric Williams said Evansville second-grader Valerie Shaffer’s generosity and fundraising were likely the biggest factors in his department’s recent $14,000 purchase of its newest canine, a 15-month-old German shepherd.
“Valerie’s got a great career in front of her in terms of not-for-profit fundraising or something like that,” he said about the girl, who also sold the most Girl Scout cookies in her troop last year.
“I have to assume that her inspiration made an awful big difference in all those other people” who gave money, he said.
Williams said his office had been only about $3,000 short of what was needed to buy the dog.
That dog, Ali, was introduced to area residents on Wednesday. The 65-pound canine replaces a police dog named Trax, a German shepherd accidentally killed in the line of duty on Nov. 3. The department has three other dogs on its force.
When Valerie heard about Trax’s death, she began collecting money around Evansville, eventually gathering more than $1,300 in cash and $1,900 more in checks for the department.
The girl said she was inspired to collect the money “because I like dogs, and I wanted to help.”
Valerie also said she wanted to “make something good out of something bad.”
Shaffer, a Brownie Scout who’s seeking to do a good deed every month, approached her 74-year-old “pap-paw” Bud Linville on Nov. 5 for ideas. He told her about Trax.
“She collected $70 that day,” Linville said.
Valerie didn’t stop at seeking donations in her neighborhood — between Nov. 5 and Dec. 31, she went to popular chain stores with her red-topped jar labeled “DONATIONS FOR POLICE DOG,” and told people about her cause.
Some people gave change but others donated more.
“One time someone gave me $50,” Valerie said Wednesday.
Williams said other donors included the West Side Sportsman’s Club, the St. Joseph’s Mens Club and Toyota.
Deputy Kevin Hertweck thought Trax’s replacement wasn’t coming until later this year, but Shaffer’s hard work helped it come sooner.
Ali is trained in criminal apprehension and is a certified narcotics detector dog for marijuana, cocaine, meth and heroin.