EAST LIVERPOOL - The city police department should have its own K-9 unit by next spring after six months of fund raising efforts provided enough money to purchase a dog and train an officer.
The Veterans City Council initiated the project in May, starting a fund raising campaign that brought in $7,000. Since that time, the East Liverpool Patrolmen's Association has also stepped up to the plate, along with city officers and other individuals, to continue the fund raising.
As of Friday night, with the completion of a benefit concert, enough money has been raised to start the program, according to Chief John Lane, who also officially announced Monday that Patrolman Chad Tatgenhorst will serve as the K-9 handler.
The dog will be purchased from Shallow Creek Kennels in Sharpsville, Pa., the same kennel that produced St. Clair Township's K-9 team of Patrolman Chris Davis and his canine partner Axel and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation K-9 team of agent Kim Nusser and his canine partner Bo, both of which have responded numerous times to calls from the city police department.
The cost of the canine, its training equipment and six weeks of training for Tatgenhorst with the dog is nearly $13,000. An additional cost will be incurred from the purchase of a specially-equipped cruiser for the K-9 team.
Lane said St. Clair Township paid $8,000 to outfit its cruiser, plus the cost of purchasing/leasing the vehicle.
"We have enough to order the cruiser," Lane said Monday, explaining the department must have the vehicle in hand before it will be accepted into the training program.
"We can't just throw (the dog) into the back of a Chevette," Lane emphasized. The vehicles are equipped with special window packages, for example.
In addition, he said a kennel must be installed at the Tatgenhorst home for the canine that is secure, and there will be the obvious veterinarian bills to be paid. A donor has offered to pay for the canine's food as it does for St. Clair's dog, Lane said.
Tatgenhorst had approached Lane soon after he assumed the chief's position, advising that, should a K-9 team ever be implemented, he would like considered as the handler.
Soon after, Lane was approached by the Veterans City Council about the fund raising campaign.
In addition to Friday's concert, a dog walk at Thompson Park and the sale of t-shirts have helped raise funds.
If all proceeds as planned, Tatgenhorst will begin training in April. The breed of dog has not yet been determined, but German shepherd dogs and Belgian malinois are commonly used by K-9 teams.