Clairton to add 2nd dog to its K-9 force
Clairton will add a second K-9 to its police force, courtesy of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation.
Council unanimously accepted the foundation's $15,000 grant at Tuesday night's meeting.
“It will give us overlapping coverage, more coverage than before,” Mayor Rich Lattanzi. “Most of all, it's a donation and the city will not have to pay for the food or medical. But even so, can you really put a price on safety?”
“This will supplement the one K-9 that we have right now,” police Chief Rob Hoffman said.
The city got assistance from the Clairton and Mon Yough chambers of commerce in applying for the grant. MYCC also helped Clairton police acquire the dog that now is on the force.
“Dogs can do things officers cannot as far as tracking, narcotics searches and the patrol service that it provides,” Hoffman said.
K-9 officer Sgt. Keith Zenkovich's partner Ike, a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois, was acquired in 2008 through an $8,000 grant from Roethlisberger's foundation.
Ike was put into service in June of that year after 10 weeks of training, and is credited with 78 apprehensions in his career.
Zenkovich, who was hired as an officer in 1999, said being a part of a K-9 unit is something he always has wanted.
“In my opinion, it's the best job in law enforcement,” Zenkovich said. “The past four or five years have been the best time in my career. It's something I've wanted to do since we were introduced to it in the final weeks of (police) academy. I always found it interesting and fascinating.”
Zenkovich said there is a big difference between being a K-9 officer and working as a patrolman without a police dog.
“When the other officers are done with their 12-hour shift, they go home,” he said. “I still have city property to maintain. He gets a bath once a month. He's got to be brushed. He's got to be exercised. He's got to be fed. I still have to care for and maintain the dog.
“Getting the second dog will help because we're on call 24 hours a day seven days a week.”
The new dog will be trained by master trainer Pat Moloney, a retired Penn Hills K-9 officer. A handler has not been chosen.
Zenkovich said Moloney offered to be a part of the selection process.
“It's a process that council's going to have to be involved with,” Hoffman said. “We have to put a process in place to pick an officer. Once we do that, we have to pick the dog and get a trainer.”
Ike cost $6,500 because he already had some training, and was flown from Belgium for $700. The rest of the grant was used toward additional training.
Zenkovich said a “green” — or untrained — dodg costs about $4,000. Training costs are $6,000-$7,000, and other equipment can be very expensive.
City manager Howard Bednar said the city learned last week that it had been awarded the grant. He said he does not know when the funds will be issued.
Clairton is one of eight police departments to receive the final grants of the 2012-13 season from the Steeler quarterback's nonprofit organization.
Other are Kittanning, Center Township, Aliquippa, Latrobe, Mt. Pleasant, New Castle and Robinson Township. The foundation is distributing a total of $66,382.17 in the Pittsburgh area.
The foundation distributed grants to police and fire departments in each city in which the Steelers played last season.
“We're very fortunate to be in the position that we are able to help these K-9 units,” Roethlisberger said in a press release. “The work that is performed by the dogs and their handlers, as well as the bond that is formed, is incredible. We're just thrilled to do our small part.”
Since 2007, the foundation has made 107 grants totaling more than $950,000 to 102 police and fire departments and five community youth organizations, including Ronald McDonald House Charities and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The K-9 grants have funded the purchase of more than 66 dogs, the training of more than 28 dogs and 50 handlers, safety equipment for more than 52 dogs, and training equipment for more than 31 dogs, as well as food, veterinary services and housing for several more animals.
Zenkovich said he will apply for a new dog through the foundation in two years, when Ike is expected to be retired.
On Tuesday, council approved the purchase of a 2005 Ford Expedition from Mosside Auto Sales for $16,495. It will be used by Zenkovich as a K-9 unit.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965.
, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steel Valley union drops restroom grievance
- Mon-Yough area first responders say drivers need to stop, pull over
- Closed Bottom Dollars in Homestead, McKeesport to become Aldi stores
- Elizabeth Forward senior builds his own canoe in school’s lab
- Clairton schools honor alumni in mentoring program
- County 911 to provide Elizabeth police with records system
- Petition challenges end 1 North Versailles candidate’s run for judge
- Vigil marks 6-year anniversary of Clairton coach’s death
- Mon-Yough area candidates bumped off ballots vow to fight on
- West Mifflin Area to sue for tuition reimbursement
- McKeesport Area consolidates administration jobs