Tyrone sniffs out handler for its new police canine | News, Sports, Jobs – Altoona Mirror

TYRONE — The Tyrone Police Department has its new K-9 handler, who is expected to select his canine companion this week.

The handler is Officer Scott Beall, just returned from a year’s deployment with the Pennsylvania National Guard in Kuwait and Jordan.

Beall was chosen from among five department applicants for the handler post during a selection process that took place over the past two weeks, after Beall’s return, Police Chief John Romeo said at a Borough Council meeting Monday.

Beall and Romeo were planning a trip to Shallow Creek Kennels in Sharpsville to meet with 10 or 15 candidate dogs of varying breeds so Beall can choose one with whom he feels a mutual bond, said Romeo, who will help with the choice.

The candidate dogs have been training for six months, Romeo said.

After a handler picks a dog, the pair train together at the kennel for six weeks, starting March 11, Romeo said.

The dog will be trained to patrol with his handler, to track and to detect drugs but not to detect bombs, Romeo said.

The chief would like a “middle-of-the-road” dog, neither too passive nor too aggressive, he said.

The total cost of setting up a program is about $25,000, according to Romeo.

The dog and the training cost about $14,500, while the special equipment for the K-9 car is about $4,500, he said.

The remainder covers costs like food and medications.

A fundraising effort by the police department has generated about $19,000 so far, according to Romeo.

A spaghetti dinner is planned for Saturday.

Council, which in June authorized seeking grants for the program, included money for it the current budget and has agreed to make up any shortfall in the fundraising, according to Romeo and Mayor Bill Latchford.

It would seem senseless not to cover a shortfall after great effort has brought the department close to its goal, Latchford said.

Among the potential problems created by not covering such a shortfall would be what to do with the money already collected, he said.

Tyrone had a police dog previously — Vilo, handled by officer Matt Lutz — but the pair went to serve in Logan Township when Lutz moved on in 2012.

Once a dog bonds with a handler, the bond is permanent, officials have indicated.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.