They wanted a new K-9, and Leisure World resident Peggy Dittberner delivered. Peggy, a resident since 1999, is a longtime volunteer of the Bismarck (North Dakota) Police Department. In 2017, after discovering the department needed more dogs, she jumped into action.
“They lost two dogs last year, quite unexpectedly, and they didn’t have the money in the budget to replace them, so I donated $10,000 for them to buy a new dog,” Peggy said.
“They were elated! Tanner Hersch—the officer who was chosen to receive him—was so appreciative and happy. I’m very fortunate to be able to do this. Now, I have a grand-dog.”
The Gift of Titan
Peggy’s relationship with the police department began several years ago when fellow resident Duane Dehne invited her to Bismarck to beat the heat. Peggy wanted something to do that would benefit both people and animals. The police department was a perfect fit because they use K-9s.
“This is from the heart, the giving from an individual that truly sees a need,” said then-Bismarck Police Chief Dan Donlin. “She could sit there and say, ‘It’s the city’s problem.’ But instead, she focused on providing a solution.”
Peggy gave her donation in January 2018, and the puppy arrived in the United States on May 1, 2018, from Hungary. He’s a beautiful black Dutch Shepherd named Titan. But before he could join the force, Titan—along with Tanner—needed training. For Titan, it was how to be a police dog, and Tanner had to learn how to work with his new partner.
They duo returned to Bismarck the first week of August 2018. Several weeks later, Titan joined Tanner on a police call. They have been inseparable ever since.
A big heart
With a love for animals, Peggy offers her financial support and time to other organizations. While in Bismarck, she organizes special events and works the pancake feed at the Dakota Zoo. She also supports the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, where every animal is adopted or kept and given the best life possible.
“Best Friends Animal Society is special because they’re a no-kill organization,” Peggy said. “They go anywhere in the country where animals are impacted by hurricanes, fires, or other disasters or are abandoned. They do wonderful things for all domestic animals, not just dogs.”
Peggy loves all animals, but dogs have a special place in her heart. Locally, Peggy provides financial assistance to a rescue organization in Tempe, Arizona, called Lost Our Home Pet Rescue. They help homeless and abandoned pets. But unlike other rescues, they give pet care to people struggling with illness and financial problems.
“Dogs are wonderful,” Peggy said. “And they do so much to help people in the community, such as providing comfort to veterans, disabled people and those suffering from mental health issues.
“I grew up having dogs, but I don’t have one now because I’m so busy. But I’ve dog sat and walked dogs for people at Leisure World, so I get my dog fix that way!”
When Peggy wants to relax and have fun, she plays tennis — a major part of her life since she learned the game several years ago. She was also instrumental in helping the tennis club get a new court, which has her name on it in honor of her $25,000 donation.
Then there’s her hats.
“They call me the hat lady,” Peggy said and laughed. “I’ve always loved hats. I started my business, Posh Hats, seven years ago. I make 35 hats a year for art and craft fairs. All the proceeds go to Best Friends Animal Society.”
A Passion for Education
Peggy was born and raised in St. Marys, Kansas. She earned her bachelor’s in elementary education at Emporia State University in Kansas. After graduating, she accepted a teaching job in Tucson and earned her masters’ degrees in education and library science from the University of Arizona.
Peggy’s passion for giving people the tools they need to succeed motivates her. During her 34 years in education, she set up libraries in communities around Topeka, Kansas.
“I think libraries are important because sitting down with a child and reading a good book is the best thing you can do to help them learn,” Peggy said. “It’s a lifelong gift.”
Peggy also worked in Tucson for five years as a K-6 teacher and a library media specialist. In 1984, she moved to Mesa where she piloted the first online library.
Although Peggy retired in 2001, she still finds ways to make a difference — as is seen with her numerous endeavors. Her desire to help others and animals everywhere is inspiring. We thank her for her service and making the world a better place.