I'm not exactly sure what I was doing when I was in first grade, but I'm pretty sure it didn't involve assisting my local police department with a major fundraising endeavor.
But 7-year-old Ethan Engum has made it his mission to help the Green Bay, Wisconsin PD replace their beloved police dog Cops—a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois who was trained in patrol operations and explosive detection and who died in August after suffering from severe health problems.
According to Ethan's mom Becky, the little boy has always loved dogs. He's even got three of his own—a German Shepard and two Chihuahuas—and he began to take an interest in police dogs about a year ago. In fact, it was during a private meet-and-greet with a K9 officer at the Green Bay Police Station that Ethan first heard the sad news about Cops.
"He was devastated," Becky told Parents.com. "He went home wanting to fill the void. He felt awful for the handler, Fred. We lost Ethan's 8-year-old cousin earlier in the year, so he understands the feeling of loss."
Which is why Ethan decided to take a stand and set up a GoFundMe page as a way to help raise funds for a new K9. The initial financial goal was set at $500, and Ethan hit that mark on the very first day. Now the family has set the bar even higher—at $12,000, to be exact. And as of this writing, they are already a little more than halfway there.
Pretty amazing. Even Cops' former handler, Officer Fred Laitinen—who worked with Cops every day since March 10, 2014—has reached out to thank Ethan in an emotionl letter.
"My life and career has been changed with the loss of Cops," he wrote. "His toys sit on the floor at home. His kennel sits empty. His bowls are on the counter, and when I look in the rearview mirror in the squad, he is no longer looking back at me. Ethan and his family told me they wanted to raise funds to help get a replacement for Cops. I am touched and grateful for their support for our Canine Unit, the department, and our community. Ethan is a role model for all of us."
#Truth! And did we mention that he's only 7?!
Becky says Ethan checks the GoFundMe page religiously and is very excited with the progress. When he does eventually hit his goal, it looks like he may even get the honor of naming the newest K9! When it comes to narrowing down a handle, though, Becky says her son is still searching.
"He is still looking at names. He hasn't settled on one yet," she told us. "He wants it to be a name with a strong meaning."
We think "Engum" has a nice, strong ring to it, don't you?
For more information and to donate, visit Ethan's GoFundMe page.