Merrill restaurant donates full day's proceeds to K-9 unitSubmitted: 10/06/2015

The Merrill Police Department runs on the motto: "Serving Merrill With Pride." Tuesday, the people of Merrill returned the favor.

Every penny of the Friendship House Restaurant's proceeds from open to close went to the K-9 unit.

Eros, the German Shepherd, and his handler, Officer Matt Drabek, spent Tuesday afternoon at the restaurant along Highway 51 thanking customers and staff.

"It was amazing especially with the fact that they're doing 100 percent of the proceeds," Drabek said. "I've heard of fundraisers for canine units and other fundraisers where they donate a certain percentage but to donate all proceeds, that's amazingly generous of them."

This is the first year Friendship House Merrill's current owners have held a fundraiser of this magnitude.

Brothers Ardi and Geti Jashari polled customers asking where they'd like the money to go. The customers overwhelmingly chose Eros.

Beyond the restaurant's proceeds, most employees gave up their pay and tips.

"This place, the job, the guys that we work for, they make it easy to want to do these kinds of things," waitress Kathy Lazotte said.

Merrill PD will use the money to help feed Eros, keep him healthy and help start a fund to purchase a new officer when Eros retires.

Eros is Merrill's first K-9 officer. The department got him about a year-and-a-half ago. Eros mainly tracks down illegal drugs, often during traffic stops. But, he can also search for people and things in buildings and tight spaces.

Officer Drabek knows many small departments can't afford a K-9 officer, but it's worth the added expense.

"[New laws say] You can't extend a traffic stop to wait for a dog, so absolutely, I would recommend to all departments if they can get one, to get one."

By early Tuesday afternoon, the Friendship House pulled in about $3,000.

Eros and Officer Drabek will be around the restaurant until closing time at 9 p.m.

Story By: Lane Kimble

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