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K-9 Klif's replacement takes over Armstrong job after graduation

| Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, 12:06 a.m.
Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media
Armstrong County Detective Mark Heider and K-9 Mibo stand outside the Pittsburgh Police K-9 Academy in Highland Park, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014, where a graduation ceremony took place for K-9 officers.

A police dog became part of Armstrong County's law enforcement team when he graduated from the Pittsburgh Police Canine Academy on Friday.

The Armstrong County District Attorney's Office's new dog, Mibo, an 18-month-old German shepherd and Belgian malinois mix, is trained to sniff out drugs and bombs — like his predecessor, Klif, who was retired this year after being stricken by a crippling disease.

Mibo trained at the Pittsburgh academy for 12 weeks before his graduation, said Detective Mark Heider, who was Klif's handler and will now lead his replacement.

“Graduation naturally brings some excitement and relief after weeks of working with Mibo to get him trained,” Heider said. “But it's a little bittersweet, since it brings a real sense of finality to Klif's career.”

Heider has been bringing Mibo to his home in Sarver for several weeks to get acclimated with his work schedule and develop a bond.

“Klif isn't too happy about it — he's looking at me like, ‘Why are you bringing this new guy into our home?' ” Heider said. “He'll get used to Mibo, but Klif still likes to occasionally give me his guilt trip look for not taking him with me.”

Eight-year-old Klif has been adjusting to early retirement while getting the therapy he needs to keep him steady as his incurable disease progresses, Heider said.

The Region 13 Task Force, an emergency response group representing 13 southwestern counties, purchased Klif's replacement for $7,000. Donations will cover some of Mibo's training and equipment costs. The District Attorney's office will foot the rest of the bill and cover ongoing care and feeding expenses.

“Mibo has got big shoes to fill. Klif always did an outstanding job,” District Attorney Scott Andreassi said. “But we're confident the new dog will also do a great job.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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