MISHAWAKA — Police say finding a replacement for Ricky, the K9 police dog killed with Cpl. James Szuba in a January traffic accident, won’t be easy. But one local band hopes to make if affordable. Next week, on Feb. 13, the Midway Tavern will host a concert by Vyagra Falls, a band made up predominately of area doctors, with all proceeds from the show going to help cover the costs of replacing Ricky. The cost of buying and training a new K-9 is about $5,000, said Mishawaka Assistant Chief Mike Samp, and doesn’t include the costs associated with training an officer to work with the dog. Samp said the costs associated with replacing Ricky are not covered by insurance. Although the department typically budgets $4,000 a year to train, feed and care for its K9s, there are no funds budgeted to replace dogs. "We still have two K-9 dogs in the department," Samp said. "But we’re used to having three." Enter Vyagra Falls. Jesse Hsieh is the lead guitarist for the band and a primary care physician for South Bend Clinic. He said the group typically donates proceeds from its shows to charity, but said the idea to help Mishawaka buy a new K9 originated with his son Christopher Hsieh, a sophomore at John Adams High School. Hsieh said his older sons, after the death of South Bend officer Nick Polizzotto, started a Fallen Heroes magnet campaign, to raise money in 2007. He said Christopher wanted to do something similar for Szuba and Ricky’s death. "He asked us if we had a charity in mind for our February show, and I said no, and then he said we should help Mishawaka get a dog," Hsieh said. Besides proceeds from the concert, Hsieh said Fallen Heroes magnets will also be sold at the show, with proceeds also going toward the replacement of Ricky. People who can’t make the show but would still like to donate may write checks to the city of Mishawaka, with the words "Police K9 Fund" written in the memo line. Checks can be dropped off at the Midway Tavern on the 13th or at Mishawaka City Hall. Hsieh said he is encouraging people to come early to the show, which is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at the Midway Tavern, 810 W. Fourth St. in Mishawaka. Hsieh said his band plays a wide variety of music — "four different decades" — including oldies from the ’60s to the latest hits by current pop singers like Lady Gaga. Hsieh said he and the band hope to raise money to not only add a new K9 to the force, but to also outfit the dog with a bulletproof vest. "It’ll be a good time," Hsieh said. "And hopefully we can raise a little money too." Staff writer Dave Stephens: firstname.lastname@example.org (574) 235-6209
Mishawaka Police Officer James Szuba and his K-9 partner, Ricky, were killed in a traffic accident late Saturday night.