Cedar Rapids Artist Creates Painting To Help K9 Dogs

By Addison Speck, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A Cedar Rapids artist is using his gift to give back to his city. Santiago Sanchez is almost finished with a painting that will be sold to raise money for the Cedar Rapids Police Department K9 unit.

Sanchez was one of the many downtown business owners that lost nearly everything back in 2008. His studio, Signature Santiago, is now located on the northeast side near Coe College.

"I lost everything and the city came and helped me to get back on track," said Sanchez, "this is kind of my way of giving back to the city, the police officers, and the K9's that do a great job and put themselves on the line every day."

For several months, Sanchez has been working on a piece he plans to sell to raise the money. "I had a vision on how I wanted it, I wanted it to represent America, I wanted it to represent our city and obviously the dogs," said Sanchez.

The piece will also feature the names of the dogs along with the signatures of all the dog handles, the police chief, and Sanchez. The work of art features different types of paints, brushes, and tools.

Upon completion, 1,000 small copies will be made and given to those who make a $25 donation. The large original piece will start at $25,000 and go to the highest bidder. If all prints and the original are sold that will raise at least $50,000, the price for just five K9 dogs.

The Cedar Rapids Police Department currently has seven K9 dogs on staff. Three of them are expected to retire in the next few years. Along with replacing the dogs when others retire, the department would also like to add an eighth dog.

K9 dogs are seen as a valuable asset to law enforcement as they can break up or sniff out things officers sometimes can't. "Those dogs put themselves on the line every day," said Sanchez, "when I met the dogs I was incredibly impressed with their loyalty to their owners and their dog handlers."

Sanchez hopes that his piece of art becomes a collector's piece that will be passed down from generation to generation. The final piece will be unveiled at the "Loyal Partners" event.

The event will be held at Fiesta Del Sol in Cedar Rapids on December 8th at 1 p.m. The public is invited to attend and will have the opportunity to make a $25 donation and receive one of the smaller limited edition prints. 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the police station and K9 unit.

For more information on Sanchez's work you can visit his website here.
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