Continuing Gavin’s work: Foundation raising money for K-9 units

BREMERTON — About a year ago, the Gavin Buchanan Memorial Foundation presented a check for $5,780.13 to local K-9 units.

This year, they hope to almost double that at their street fair, Sept. 16.

The Gavin Buchanan Memorial Foundation was founded after the death of Gavin Buchanan, who passed away a week after he turned 8 years old in September 2015. It was started to honor his love of dogs and K-9 officers.

“At the ages of 5 and 6, my grandson Gavin Buchanan saved and donated his allowance to help purchase bulletproof vests for law enforcement K-9s in California,” said Susie Slankard, president of the foundation.

“In the wake of our grief, my family rose up and decided to honor Gavin and carry on his dream by continuing his legacy of helping to protect law enforcement K-9s across the United States.”

The foundation received 501(c)(3) status in October 2015.

Though based in California, the foundation helps K-9 units nationwide buy safety gear. Last year was the first time the foundation came to Kitsap County, and they were quick to dedicate themselves to coming back.

On Sept. 16, the group will “take control” of the Horse & Cow Pub and Grill and shut down a portion of Fourth Street in Bremerton for the second K-9 fundraiser street fair.

“Our main attraction will be educational, action-packed K-9 demonstrations by Kitsap County Sheriff and Bremerton Police Department, followed by meet-and-greets with the dogs,” Slankard said.

There will also be a beer garden, live music by local bands, a bounce house, dunk tanks (with deputies and officers volunteering to be dunked), arcade games, car demonstrations, car show, vendors, raffles, silent auctions, Gavin Buchanan Memorial Foundation merchandise and more.

“Our financial goal is to raise $10,000, all of which will (be donated to local K-9 units),” Slankard said. “Our non-financial goal is to raise awareness of the importance of ensuring these dogs remain protected. We hope to educate the public on the importance of law enforcement K-9s and what exactly they do to help save and protect us.”

Slankard said 15 dogs working in K-9 units have died in the line of duty this year as of Sept. 1: six by gunfire (one accidental), one from a heart attack, seven from heat exhaustion, and one from stabbing.

“Every one of these deaths except for one (heart attack) could have been prevented,” Slankard said. “Most law enforcement K-9 units throughout the country are supported by donations alone.”

Those donations are used for gear such as bullet-resistant vests customized to each dog, money for training, adding more dogs to the roster, and vehicle equipment such as heat alarms to ensure dogs left in cars don’t suffer heatstroke.

“Gavin gave every penny he had to help save K-9s when he was 5 and 6 years old, and that is an amazing thing for any child to do,” Slankard said. “Although the Gavin Buchanan Memorial Foundation was founded out of a tragedy, I want everyone to know that it is not how Gavin died that he should be remembered, but how he lived and how he gave so unselfishly.

“Gavin was real and Gavin lived, and because of him, many, many K-9 lives will be saved.”

The second annual Gavin Buchanan Memorial Foundation Street Fair will start at 11 a.m. Sept. 16 at and outside the Horse & Cow Pub and Grill, 536 Fourth St., Bremerton.

For more information about the foundation, go to www.gavinmemorial or face book com/gavinbuchanan memorial.

— Michelle Beahm is online editor for Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at