By By Jacob Tierney – Trib Total Media
Two Youngwood rescue dogs are putting safety first with their new bulletproof vests.
The vests came from Vested Interest in K9s, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that donates protective clothing for canine professionals.
Youngwood applied to Vested Interest for vests for two of its search and rescue dogs, Bella and Rusty.
“We’re trying to protect them just like we’re trying to protect all of our firemen,” Youngwood fire Chief Lloyd Crago said.
He said he hopes to eventually purchase vests for all 10 of the department’s rescue dogs, but since each custom-fitted vest costs $950 it will take some major fundraising efforts to make it happen.
Vested Interest has been providing vests free of charge since it was founded in 2009.
“The dogs that are taking care of us, we have to take care of them. They deserve the same level of protection as human officers,” said Vested Interest president and founder Sandy Marcal.
By Paul Peirce / photo by Sean Stipp – Tribune-Review
North Huntingdon police dogs Vegas, Colt and Nero on Thursday showed off new threads — Kevlar vests designed to save their lives.
The K-9 officers were sporting protective gear provided through a New England foundation and a retired law enforcement officer.
The department’s K-9 unit handlers — Sgt. Kari Bauer and officers Bill Sombo and Jeremy Nichols — gathered with their respective German shepherds to thank Vested Interest in K9s, a nonprofit group in East Taunton, Mass., and retired New York City police officer Madeline Hamersley, who lives in Maine.
Bauer prepared the grant application last November. Just days later, a foundation representative and Hamersley, one of its benefactors, both telephoned to report the application was approved for two dogs.
Bauer still chuckled Thursday as she told reporters about Hamersley’s reaction upon learning North Huntingdon has three canine officers. “No way I’m going to let that third dog go unprotected,” she said.
By WTAE – Andrew Del Greco
PITTSBURGH —With an American flag draped over his coffin, Pittsburgh police K-9 Officer Rocco received full police honors Thursday night as his body was escorted out of the veterinary clinic where he bravely battled severe injuries the past two days.
“They have a heavy heart. They lost a colleague. Officer (Phil) Lerza lost a member of his family,” said Pittsburgh Police Cmdr. Eric Holmes.
Most members of the police K-9 unit, including many of its 21 K-9s, were at the Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty Emergency Center on Camp Horne Road in Ohio Township to salute Rocco. Then a police procession led throughout the city, ending at Cemetery Lane.
“He died saving his fellow members and he lived serving all of us,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at all city buildings in honor of Rocco.
Peduto told reporters he spoke to Lerza and his wife and “their heart is broken” over Rocco’s death.
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Three Pittsburgh police officers and a K-9 were injured Tuesday night while police tried to arrest a wanted man.
According to police, while driving in Lawrenceville, an Allegheny County Deputy Sheriff recognized a man wanted on probation/parole violations in the area of Penn Avenue and Butler Street.
He tried to arrest the man, later identified as John Rush, but Rush resisted, reached for the deputy’s gun and was Tazed by the deputy.
That still didn’t stop Rush, who fled the scene. He was later found to be hiding in a building in the 3700-block of Butler Street.
While searching the building, Pittsburgh Police officers, a K-9 and his handler located Rush hiding in the basement.
Police say Rush lunged forward at the three officers and the K-9, wildly swinging a pocket knife.
By Greg Reinbold / photo by Sean Stipp – Triblive.com / Blairsville Dispatch
Derry Borough’s most easily recognizable police officer is certified for another year of service.
K-9 officer Blade, a 5-year-old Dutch shepherd who has been with the department since he was a year old, completed North American Police Work Dog Association recertification requirements last month and was recertified in narcotics detection in July.
Blade located drugs hidden in a house and school lockers to complete his narcotics detection recertification, and he breezed through a battery of challenges designed to test the skills needed on patrol, including obedience, article search, area search, tracking or trailing, building search, aggression control and handler protection.
“Blade tears it up,” said Derry Borough police Chief Randy Glick, the dog’s handler. “He loves going there and doing this stuff.”
During testing for search and tracking abilities, dogs must find people hidden outdoors and behind closed doors in a building, detect items hidden in a field and follow a scent trail.
By Jennifer R. Vertullo – McKeesport Daily News
Clairton police Sgt. Bob Ferry is getting to know his new best friend.
“We’re doing well,” Ferry said Wednesday after a four-hour round trip to Sharpsville to pick up the department’s new K-9 officer, a 14-month old German shepherd named Jerry. “I’m excited and ready to go. I meet with the trainer tomorrow and we will go over all of the things that I should and shouldn’t be doing (as I) get to know Jerry and he gets to know me.”
Ferry, a 13-year veteran of the force and a full-time employee for seven years, said he always has wanted to be a K-9 handler.
Wednesday’s journey from Shallow Creek Kennels in Mercer County began an intensive 30-day bonding period for Ferry and Jerry. They will learn to trust one another and work together.
The next step will be a 10-week training program that will cover obedience, narcotics, tracking and apprehension. The duo will travel throughout Western Pennsylvania five days a week to train in different locations to prevent becoming acclimated to a particular site.
“If he goes into a building, you don’t want him to know that he looks for drugs here or people there,” Clairton Sgt. Keith Zenkovich said. “That way, Jerry will get used to different environments and surfaces. He can do anything anywhere.”
Zenkovich, who has been a K-9 handler since May 2008 with Belgian malinois Ike, said Ferry and his dog will build a stronger bond as training progresses.
By Scott Beveridge – Observer-Reporter
California Borough is suing a former police officer in Washington County Court for the return on its canine officer, a dog she handled before resigning more than a year ago.
Borough solicitor Keith Melenyzer on July 18 filed the one-count lawsuit against Tracy Potemra-Hudak, asking a judge to order her to return the dog named Argo, which was purchased in early 2009 with a $4,500 federal grant, court records show.
California claims the 5-year-old German shepherd is borough property, having been appointed a police officer in June 2009, the lawsuit states.
The borough also is seeking the return of the dog’s property in Potemra-Hudak’s possession, including clothing she wore as its handler, dog fencing the borough installed at her residence and a radio.
Potemra-Hudak, who began working in the department and rose to the level of acting chief, resigned Dec. 14, under the terms of her worker’s compensation settlement, the lawsuit states.
She was directed Feb. 1 to return Argo to the department, according to the lawsuit served Wednesday.