Two popular bars in Tuscaloosa are joining forces to donate more than $20,000 to replace an aging police dog retiring after nine years on the force.

Stephanie Taylor, a spokesperson for the Tuscaloosa Police Department, said the department has decided to medically retire a K-9 named Diezel after he was diagnosed with arthritis, which has worsened over time.

Diezel's replacement is a K9 named Leo, Taylor said, a 16-month-old Belgian Malinois similar to the one in the file photo above.

It will cost $20,802 to purchase, train and equip the dog, but two bars - Rounders on the Strip and Innisfree Irish Pub - have offered to foot the bill.

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Chief Brent Blankley praised Grant McCabe and Scott McReynolds at Rounders and Walter “Tripp” Rogers at Innisfree for their support of the department.

"Grant, Scott and Tripp have always been great partners working with us on public safety issues - but this kind of support takes that to a whole new level," Blankley said. "It's such a generous gift and goes above and beyond anything we expected. We're incredibly grateful they stepped up in this big way to support us and to help keep the community safe."

Blankley said the collaboration started with a conversation about how the bars could assist the department, and both groups are excited about working together to grow and develop TPD's K9 program. Taylor said as soon as next year, this partnership could allow for an additional K9 to be added to the program.

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The Tuscaloosa City Council unanimously voted to accept the donation to the police department Tuesday night.

For more coverage of news happening in and around the area, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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