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Police seeking another K9 unit

Andy Ouriel • Feb 13, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Sandusky’s four-legged police officer has just a few more years of active duty left on him, at most.

Justice, a 7-year-old German shepherd, is nearing an age when police commanders want to begin the process of replacing him with a younger pup.

“Justice has served us very well and is a seasoned officer of our department,” Sandusky police Chief John Orzech said.

“But Justice is going to be 8 in July. I thought it’s appropriate to start seeking donations now”

Police dogs typically stop serving when they reach the age of 9 or 10.

Orzech estimates he’ll need about $15,000 to purchase and train a new police dog, as well as buying any necessary materials.    There’s no room in the police department’s $5 million annual budget to cover costs for a police dog.

Orzech plans to launch a fundraising campaign. Perkins police and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office recently started similar efforts and immediately landed funds from residents and companies, which helped them purchase their own respective police dogs.

Ideally, Orzech wants to land a new dog no later than summer 2015.

Justice and his handler, Sandusky police Detective Adam West, would then help train the department’s new police dog and a different handler during a transitionary phase.

“I would like for them to train together for a year before Justice retires,” Orzech said.

Justice’s tenure with Sandusky police hasn’t been easy. About two years ago, the dog missed several months of action after suffering an ACL injury.

He’s also been paired with several officers facing misconduct, with two of his previous handlers suspended for various reasons. Justice remained sidelined, and later reassigned to someone else, while those officers faced disciplinary action.

Justice has been active since late 2012, however, sniffing out drugs and serving as an important public relations tool. The dog helps create a positive relationship between community members and police, Orzech said.

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