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RACINE — Recycling metal doesn’t just keep it out of the landfill; it can also help local law enforcement agencies with their K-9 officer units.

On Friday, Alter Metal Recycling, through its Cans for K-9s program, handed $500 checks to five local agencies with K-9 units: the Racine, Caledonia, Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant police departments; and the Racine County Sheriff’s Office.

Damon Hassell, facility manager at Alter’s location at 1339 17th St. — it has another at 3056 Hamilton Ave. in Mount Pleasant — said Cans for K-9s started in 2017 at the suggestion of one of Alter’s truck drivers. When people or businesses donate aluminum cans to the program, the company matches the money that produces, dollar for dollar.

Hassell said Alter, a family-owned company with 70 locations located mainly in the Midwest, was able to split a $2,500 donation equally to the five agencies with K-9 units in 2017. The donations came from just more than 2,000 pounds of donated aluminum cans.

The St. Louis-based company handed out five more $500 checks at noon Friday to the K-9 units at Alter’s 17th Street location, from about 2,300 pounds of donated cans.

“We would like to get to $5,000 this year,” Hassell said. So far, Alter has tried to tell people about the program only through Facebook and word of mouth.

“One guy comes every day with one bag,” Hassell said. Apparently the man rides around looking for cans he can donate.

How donations are used

Hassell said the Racine and Mount Pleasant police departments have used money from Alter’s Cans for K-9s program for bulletproof vests for its dogs, and Sturtevant has used the money for a cooling cage for its dog.

“The K-9 unit greatly relies on community assistance and involvement through citizens and greats companies like Alter Metal,” said Racine Police Sgt. Chad Melby, who oversees the department’s K-9 unit. “Donations like these go directly to the purchase of future canines and necessary equipment for the dogs.

“The Racine Police Department K-9 unit would like to thank the community and Alter Metal Recycling for their donations and will continue to work hard on behalf of the citizens of Racine,” Melby concluded.

Alter is active in other charitable ways, Hassell said, financially assisting programs such as the Coats for Kids clothing drive and the Battle of the Badges, a boxing event that raises money for autism support.

The company will also take old refrigerators without charging a fee, Hassell said. The company removes the coolant, then shreds and recycles the units. All of the money produced that way goes to local charities: about $3,300 from refrigerators was taken in last year.

“We want to give back,” Hassell said.

“Donations like these go directly to the purchase of future canines and necessary equipment for the dogs.” Sgt. Chad Melby, Racine police K-9 handler

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Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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