A love of dogs, a family history including law enforcement and the desire to make a difference inspired Elizabeth Johnson, Joplin, to start an organization designed to help area K-9 units.

A love of dogs, a family history including law enforcement and the desire to make a difference inspired Elizabeth Johnson, Joplin, to start an organization designed to help area K-9 units.
Furever Friends of K-9 Heroes is the group and were officially recognized by the state of Missouri in March.
Johnson credits two movies with spurring her to action. The first, "The Greatest Showman," a musical based on the life of circus entrepreneur P.T. Barnum, includes a song, "Come Alive," which gave Johnson a wake-up call. The song, she says, is about being dead inside and going through life 'like a zombie'.
"That's what's wrong with me," Johnson said she realized. "I go to work everyday, I come home, take care of the kids, make supper and go to bed and get up and do it all over again and nothing changes. I realized I wanted to make a difference."
Another movie helped her decide the direction to take her efforts.
"We just love dogs," Johnson said. "It's something that my daughter and I are both really passionate about."
They watched the film and cried when a character, a K-9 officer, is shot.
"That's it," Johnson said she realized "My daughter and I both love dogs and I thought that's it."
They came up with the name Furever Friends of K-9 Officers and started planning their first fundraiser.
Johnson is also an avid Star Wars fan so she came up with a trivia event based on Star Wars to be held on May 4 because it's observed by fans as Star Wars Day with the tagline "May the Fourth be with you!"
The fundraiser proved to be successful and this week, Johnson presented Newton County Sheriff Chris Jennings with a check for $1,000 to be use for training and certification for the Newton County K-9 officers, Kimber and Charlie. Johnson stated the group has also donated to Newton County Search and Rescue as well as donated $300 for the Jasper County K-9 unit for a much needed dog house.
"We want to help fill in any budget gaps for the K-9 units," she said.
Johnson plans to make the Star Wars fundraiser an annual event and is considering creating another event at the end of July to mark fictional character Harry Potter's birthday.
In addition to Sheriff Jennings, K-9 unit officer A. Snider and his K-9 partner, Kimber, were on hand for the check presentation.
Newton County K-9 officers Kimber and Charlie both ride with their handlers and assist the law enforcement officers with drug detection, apprehension of fugitives, and high risk searches. Each of the K-9 handlers has received special training to work with the dogs.