New police K9 annex to be named for Commissioner JoAnn Birrell

Cobb commissioners and police officials along with three dogs gather around sign stating "JoAnn K Birrell Police K9 Annex"

[Screenshot from video of Board of Commissioners meeting]

District 3 Commissioner JoAnn Birrell has been well-known for her love of and support for programs involving dogs. Those include Superior Pets for Patriotic Vets and the Cobb County Police Department K9 Unit.

At the Cobb County Board of Commissioners meeting last Tuesday, she received a special honor.

The new police K9 Unit annex at the Cobb Animal Services facility on Al Bishop Drive will be named the “JoAnn K Birrell Police K9 Annex.”

This was a surprise to Birrell. The commissioners and various police officers and public safety officials, along with dogs from the K9 Unit, gathered in front of the room while the popular Baha Men song “Who Let the Dogs Out?” played.

Screenshot from video of Board of Commissioners meeting

Lt. Mark Blakeney, commander of the K9 Unit delivered the announcement of the proposal, which the BOC later approved in a 5-0 vote.

Blakeney said:

Commissioner Birrell has been a huge supporter of our K9 Unit for nearly 20 years. I first met her before she was commissioner when she was with the Northeast Cobb Business Association.

And then back in 2006, she spearheaded a fundraiser to purchase two police dogs, one of which was my first dog.

Since then, as District Three Commissioner, she’s continued to be a huge supporter of the K9 unit. She’s assisted in multiple additional fundraisers over the years to help purchase new dogs.

Most recently she pledged a portion of her contingency fund to replace one of our retiring dogs and also funded a new kennel system.

This kennel system has been a dream and a vision for us for a long time. It’s capable of housing up to eight police dogs … has a dog bathing station … it is climate-controlled.

It’ll be utilized to keep our dogs in while officers are in court or in training or on vacation. So it’s only fitting that we named this facility the “JoAnn K Birrell Police K9 Annex.”

Birrell, after outlining some of the tasks that K9 dogs perform, including finding missing persons and search and rescue, said, “Oh, this is a total surprise. I’m in shock. And I really appreciate it. I love you guys. All of you. So thank you.”

The BOC then approved naming the facility after Commissioner Birrell 5-0.

About the Cobb County Police Department K9 Unit

The Special Units page on the Cobb County Police Department website describes the role of the department’s K9 Unit as follows:

The K-9 Unit’s mission is to support the precincts, special operations and investigative units of the Cobb County Police Department. The unit currently has nine K-9 teams consisting of three breeds; Belgian Malinois, German Shepherds and a Dutch Shepherd. Six of these K-9 teams are capable of narcotics detection, evidence recovery and tracking. There are three teams dedicated to explosive detection. The narcotics/patrol teams are certified nationally through the North American Police Work Dog Association and the National Narcotics Detector Dog Association. The explosive K-9 teams are certified through and members of the Georgia Emergency Management Explosive Detection Dog Program. In addition to patrol and investigative functions the unit conducts numerous demonstrations for the public throughout the year.