Fundraiser for Deputy Reaches More Than $10,000

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A fundraising page posted to benefit an Athens County Sheriff’s Deputy who lost his home, belongings and his canine partner, Ryder, has raised more than $10,000 in less than 24 hours.

A fire that erupted on Thursday on Luhrig Road, at the residence of Deputy John Kulchar, killed K9 officer Ryder and another dog Kulchar was training, named Bane. The cause of the fire has not been determined but arson has been ruled out by investigators.

Kulchar and Ryder have been the K9 unit for Athens County since 2013, and Acting Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith said Kulchar and Ryder “took the program to a new level.”

Smith did not give details on a planned memorial service, but said the service the canine provided greatly benefitted the county.

“We, as a community, have suffered a great loss,” Smith wrote in the statement. “We will always remember K9 Ryder, a hero among us all. He will never be forgotten.”

The community has responded to Kulchar’s loss in the form of thousands of dollars of donations to a GoFundMe account posted by Dawn Deputy, who is also the fiscal officer at the sheriff’s office. As of 12:15 p.m. on Friday, the fund had raised $11,620.

“We are overwhelmed with the amount of support we have received for Deputy Kulchar during his loss,” said a statement posted to the page on Friday, which was surrounded by comments expressing sympathies to Kulchar.

Smith shared memories in his statement about Ryder as well, saying the canine deputy was loved by kids and the community.

“K9 Ryder was very well known among the community and well loved by many,” Smith wrote in the statement. “He loved to visit with kids at all the Athens County schools. K9 Ryder fought to keep the schools free of drugs, he was there at the schools to protect our kids in our community.”

Donations can be made at: