Mike Ilitch quietly gave thousands to start K9 program in Harper Woods

While Mike Ilitch was well known for his successes in Detroit, not many knew of his generous contributions to help create a K-9 officer program in Harper Woods.

After local businesses expressed interest in a K-9 program in the city, they raised $50,000 between August and December 2016.

Mike and Marian Ilitch were one of the first supporters of the program, making a generous contribution to the cause.

"When we found out that the Illitchs wanted to get involved with our program here, they were one of the huge supporters of starting this up and making a great donation to selecting Kaiser," said Harper Woods Police Officer Stephen Johnson.

Kaiser is a 15-month-old German Shepard, and a new officer at the Harper Woods Police Department.

He is still a pup, but is well trained in obedience, narcotics and tracking.

"He's a very social animal. As well we can go out and track the bad guys. We can go out and track missing children," Johnson said.


The Illitch family became involved with the City of Harper Woods through the St. Sabbas Orthodox Monastery.

Father John at the monastery has a close relationship with the Illitch family.

He's wasn't available for comment last week, but it's our understanding he was with the family during a private funeral for Mike Ilitch.

The monastery contributed to a major part of the fundraising for the K-9 program, says Corrine Martin of the Grosse Pointe Animal Adoption Society.

"The Ilitch family has played a great role in their compassion for the program, their outreach and helping the City of Harper Woods," she said.

In honor of the Detroit pioneer, the original plan was to name the K-9 after Little Caesars.

"We actually looked into the name Caesar. It was taken in this area by another dog, so we actually chose the name Kaiser," Johnson said.

Kaiser, which is German for Caesar, has a big day this week here in the courtroom at the Municipal Building in Harper Woods.

"He's going to be here at our city council meeting. He's going to be officially sworn in as an official member of our police department," Johnson said.