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Pa. officer leads effort to keep his partner cool

August 01, 2012|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Greencastle (Pa.) Police Department K-9 officer Keith Russell works with his dog Rony Wednesday morning.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

GREENCASTLE, Pa. — Dogs across the United States die each year inside vehicles that statistics say can reach 120 degrees within minutes in the hot summer sun.

Greencastle Police Department officer Keith Russell wants to ensure his canine partner, Rony, is not one of them.

Fundraising is under way to purchase equipment designed to protect both Rony and Russell.

Once installed, it would monitor the temperature in the pair’s patrol vehicle, then roll the windows down automatically if the interior temperature reaches a dangerous level. The equipment would activate the sirens and horn, and send an alert to a device on Russell’s belt to notify him the vehicle is too hot for Rony.

It also provides Russell with an additional personal security feature. If Russell found himself in an unsafe situation, he could push a button on his device to open the vehicle’s doors and release Rony to assist him.

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The Ace K9 Hot-N-Pop Pro system will cost about $1,500 for the department’s Chevrolet Tahoe. About $300 has been raised through tax-deductible donations made at Orrstown Bank branches for “Friends of Rony.”

Russell said he had similar, but outdated equipment in one of his previous patrol vehicles.

“It would have cost more to fix than to get a new one,” he said.

Russell has been talking to civic groups about contributing to the new equipment for the dog, which is a mix between a German shepherd and Belgian Malinois. He said previous fundraising campaigns provided Rony’s vest and training collar.

The 86-pound dog, which has been with the department three years, is certified for narcotics work and patrol tasks, which include tracking and apprehending suspects, building searches, protection and searches for evidence.

“He found a gun for me in one of our parks,” Russell said, saying he never would have seen the gun, which turned out to be a BB gun, in the brush.

Russell said he always leaves his vehicle’s air-conditioning on for Rony in the warmer months. However, he worries about the air-conditioning malfunctioning when he is away from the vehicle and Rony is inside.

Russell also likes the idea he could use the button to free Rony from the vehicle if he gets into trouble when responding to an incident by himself.

“It’ll keep both of us safe,” he said.

To find out more or to make a donation, visit any area Orrstown Bank branch.

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