Logan Township K-9 officer delayed

Original handler halted training

Logan Township’s acquisition of a new police dog has been delayed by about three months because the officer initially chosen to be a handler broke off his training in early July, after two weeks.

Officer Chris Blough, who’d been set to graduate Aug. 3 after the six-week course at Shallow Creek Kennels in Sharpsville, “didn’t realize the depth” of the commitment needed, said Police Chief Dave Reese at a recent supervisors meeting.

Blough’s handler replacement, Officer George Swander, will begin the same kind of course at Shallow Creek on Oct. 1, with graduation set for Nov. 9, Reese said.

“People don’t know what handlers do,” said Super­visor Ron Heller, former township police chief and a K-9 handler himself.

Handlers “spend 24-7” with their dogs. The dogs go home with the handlers after their shifts and live with the handlers’ families, Heller said. “It doesn’t go away,” he stated.

Swander has been in preparation, has visited the kennel and was getting ready to visit again, so he has a firm understanding of what he’s getting into, said Reese, who indicated he’s confident of a “positive outcome” this time.

The course costs $14,000.

In December, Fiore Toyota donated $17,000 to the township to cover that cost and some additional expenses connected with the acquisition of a second K-9 dog.

The township police department already has Freddy, a 1-year-old Belgian Malinois.

Blough’s shortened term at Shallow Creek was pro-rated by the kennel, and cost the township about $2,000, Reese said.

Blough “is still an excellent officer,” supervisors Chairman Jim Patterson said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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