By Walter O’Brien The Somerset Reporter
Years of support and dedication by the Wildman family to the county K9 Unit has been recognized with the naming of the latest member of the team in her honor.
Arthur Wildman, Alison Wildman’s father, came to the Sheriff’s Office Tuesday expecting to receive a ceremonial thank you plaque presentation from Sheriff Frank J. Provenzano and the K9 Unit for his family foundation’s years of support.
Arthur Wildman was instead introduced to K9 Wildman, the 8-month-old bloodhound and newest member of the K9 Unit who will now carry the family name. Representatives from PNC Bank, which administers the foundation’s trust, also attended.
The Alison Marie Wildman Foundation was created in 2002 by the family to honor the memory of the 30-year-old Bridgewater woman, and animal lover, tragically killed in the World Trade Center attack of September 11, 2001.
The foundation has donated more than $20,000 over 11 years to the unit to pay for canine body armor, dog food, veterinary bills and training aides.
“My wife passed away in May — she was an ardent supporter of the K9 Unit,” Arthur Wildman said. “She was the backbone of the foundation, which supports other local charities as well, including Seeing Eye in Morristown.”
“We are proud and honored to dedicate our new K9 member’s name in Alison’s memory,” Sheriff Frank J. Provenzano said. “This is a tribute not only to Alison but to her family and to the foundation that was established in her name, which has so generously supported our K9 unit for over a decade.”
Provenzano established the K9 Unit in 2003. The unit consists of three dogs and their handlers — narcotics scent-detection dog Dano, handled by Capt. Tim Pino; explosive-detection canine Nemo, handled by Officer Al Bauer; and human scent-tracking canine Boone, who is retiring and will be replaced on the team by Wildman in 2014, handled by Officer Thomas Wallace.
“This past year has been very special and humbling for the (Sheriff’s) K9 Unit,” said Pino, the unit’s commander. “First we had Gov. Chris Christie name a law after our K9 Dano, and now we are dedicating the name of our newest K9 in memory of Alison Wildman. None of this happens without the great support we get on a daily basis from Sheriff Provenzano.”
“The least we can do is name the new K9 dog Wildman,” Provenzano said. “I’m very proud that Wildman will keep (Alison’s) memory alive.”