Butler police add second K-9 officer
The newest four-legged member of the Butler police force is now on the streets.
Blade, a 17-month-old German shepherd, joined fellow K-9 officer Gunner on the job last week.
“Gunner's been great,” police Chief Ronald Fierst said.
Gunner, who's been on the job since November, helped in one arrest when a man was preparing to climb out a second-story window to avoid police, he said.
When Gunner's handler, Patrolman Brian Grooms, shouted that he had a dog, the man changed his mind, exited through the front door and surrendered peacefully.
Although Gunner will remain as a patrol dog, Blade will serve a dual purpose as a patrol and narcotics officer. Blade's handler is city officer David Villotti, a former K-9 officer in Clairton.
The Butler County sheriff's department also got a K-9 officer last year.
“We're a countywide asset,” said Butler County Sheriff Mike Slupe of Bullet, who started in July, replacing a dog deemed too “skittish” that lasted just a couple of weeks.
Slupe said the city's dogs shouldn't be overlapping Bullet's duties.
“(Bullet) is a sniffer for drugs and tracking, he's not a patrol dog. There's a difference,” Fierst said.
Bullet has helped in searches for people, Slupe said, and a couple of drug cases.
Butler city's K-9 program is funded almost solely by donations. No additional officers have been hired. Veterinarian Denis Daman donates medical care.
So far, Fierst said, the program has raised nearly $100,000, including $25,000 in sweatshirt and T-shirt sales.
“I think that the people of the community realized there was a need for the K-9s, and they wanted to become a part of it,” Fierst said.
“It's a community dog. It's not just the city but the surrounding area as well.”
The First United Methodist Church summer vacation Bible program raised more than $4,000 for the program, Fierst said, while the Logan Family Trust, established through the estate of former candy company owner Glenn R. Logan, gave $10,000.
In April 2012, Denny Offstein, a Butler auto dealer, kicked off fundraising efforts by offering a $10,000 interest-free loan to the city.
“This is a history-making event,” Offstein said, adding that the city has never had K-9 officers. “I went everywhere asking for money, and nobody said no.”
A reception thanking donors to Butler's K-9 program will feature Gunner and Blade. It runs from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the First United Methodist Church Connection Center in Butler. At 4 p.m., Catholic, Protestant and Jewish religious leaders will bless the dogs.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 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.