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K-9 Sarge is on the job

March 30, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- Monday was only the first official day on the job for the Waynesboro Police Department's newest "officer," but he had already obtained an impressive rank.

Sarge is a Dutch shepherd who spent a month training to join the department's K-9 unit. The dog can conduct building, area and narcotics searches, and he can assist human officers in controlling aggressive individuals.

"His athletic ability is amazing. He can jump 7 feet," handler Cpl. John Shindledecker said.

The department's first trained dog, Ex, was euthanized last fall due to his pain from bone cancer. Residents and businesses contributed $12,000 to enable the police department to buy Sarge through Castle's K-9 of Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Shindledecker goes to Castle's K-9 for regular training, but his experiences this past month were unlike any before.

"This dog was totally green. It was like going there for the first time," he said, explaining that Ex was trained when he arrived at the department a decade ago.

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Shindledecker received Sarge not long after Thanksgiving 2008. The corporal acclimated the 72-pound dog to his home, his family and riding in the patrol car.

The handler and dog then embarked on obedience training, which Shindledecker described as the building blocks for all other training. Sarge, who was born in Slovakia, learned his commands in the Czech language.

Despite his abilities to sniff out drugs and knock down grown men, Sarge is not unlike other 16-month-old dogs. Shindledecker reports the black-and-brown brindle dog chews on most everything in the house and licks his 5-year-old son from head to toe.

The corporal expressed gratitude to all the donors who made the purchases of Ex and Sarge possible. He shared special thanks for Waynesboro Veterinary Clinic's willingness to donate services for the life of the dog, K-9 Designs' offer of grooming facilities and Blue Ridge K-9 Training Center's food donations.

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