By MARY ANN O’TOOLE HOLLEY
At a recent St. Charles County Council meeting, a new police officer was present, a black Labrador Retriever who squirmed and jumped like any ordinary pooch that couldn’t get enough of his partner/trainer/handler Cpl. Scott Schnee’s attention.
The new official K-9 officer, Maxx, was donated by the Ryan Griffin Memorial Foundation, an organization founded by retired Laborers Local 42 Organizer Rick Griffin and his wife, Kim, after their 20-year-old son, Ryan, died from an accidental drug overdose in 2007.
Maxx was donated to the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department and will serve his duty at the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in St. Charles County sniffing out potential explosives or guns. Maxx and his handler recently went through six weeks of explosives detection training.
“We’re very excited to add one more tool to our toolbox,” Sheriff Scott Lewis said.
Maxx is the 11th dog donated by the Ryan Griffin Memorial Foundation to area law enforcement.
Since establishing the Foundation, Rick and Kim Griffin have held annual golf tournaments and received large individual donations that have allowed them to buy 11 drug sniffing, money sniffing, explosive sniffing dogs with amazing abilities that are working to keep our communities safer. The dogs cost about $8,000 each, and the cities pay for the training. Last year’s golf tournament raised close to $43,000.
After her son died, Kim Griffin said she felt in her heart there was something she could do to prevent such a tragedy from happening to others. The Foundation was formed from that idea, and the Griffins went to work.
STARTED WITH SCHOLARSHIPS
At first, in memory of Ryan, a state champion wrestler for the Francis Howell School District, the Griffins provided college scholarships for wrestlers to public and private high schools in the area. They later expanded the Foundation’s mission to provide highly trained dogs to local police but continue to award scholarships, with total disbursements totaling $100,000.
The first dog the foundation donated was given to the Wentzville Police Department in 2015. Since then, 10 more working K-9s have been purchased by the Foundation.
In January 2019, a drug sniffing dog was given to the Hazelwood Police Department. The dog, dubbed K-9 Jessie-the Griff Dog, was named for Ryan Griffin. Current plans are to donate a K-9 to the Federal Drug Administration working out of Columbia, Illinois. “I never thought we’d grow this quickly,” said Kim Griffin. “I’m glad God showed me the way. That’s how it’s been all along with the drug awareness, God showed me. Here we are 11 dogs later.”
And the Griffins aren’t finished yet. The year’s golf tournament is scheduled for Aug. 22, and Kim is planning a billboard to help inform parents of things they may not know about heroin. “I see it in my mind: huge letters, ‘PARENTS, did you know heroin is smoked, snorted and injected, and that equals death?’”
To donate to the Ryan Griffin Memorial Foundation, send contributions to 173 Black Rock Lane, St. Charles, MO 63304.