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K-9 officer to join Sharpsburg Police force

| Tuesday, July 25, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
Sharpsburg Police Officer Jeff Hussar speaks to council about bringing a K-9 program to the borough during a 2017 meeting.
Christine Manganas | For the Tribune-Review
Sharpsburg Police Officer Jeff Hussar speaks to council about bringing a K-9 program to the borough during a 2017 meeting.

The Sharpsburg Borough Police Department is hiring another full-time officer, but this one has four legs.

Sharpsburg Officer Jeff Hussar will have a new, dual-purpose K-9 partner, a patrol and narcotics dog expected to join the force by mid-2018.

“With the drugs that we have in the area and everything else, its very useful to us,” Hussar said. “There are other K-9s around, but there's not that many in the area and we would be the only ones in this valley.”

Currently, if Sharpsburg needs a K-9 unit, the department depends on other municipalities such as O'Hara or the city, which can take hours to get. In a recent stolen car situation, Hussar said it took 35 minutes to get a dog for a suspect running on foot. By the time the dog arrived, the person was long gone.

“I think it's going to be a great asset,” Chief Tom Stelitano said. “It's all anyone has talked about in the past, but it's never really panned out before.”

The next step for Hussar is to receive and get acquainted with a K-9, a six-week training course at Shallow Creeks Kennel in Mercer County teaching him commands and how to essentially be with the dog at work and at home.

The cost — food, training and equipment — is about $14,000. The food will be donated and the department is seeking a veterinarian to donate services to reduce the costs.

Also required is special K-9 police vehicle with equipment tailored to the dog's needs, which costs about $40,000. It includes automatic doors, a special cooling system, caged seating and fans in the windows.

The borough plans to cover the costs via grants and fundraising events.

Hussar has been with the department for four years, becoming a full-time officer last year. He said he has always wanted to become a K-9 officer.

“He's your permanent partner,” Hussar said. “I'm really excited to do it. A lot of people want to be chief or detective, but I just want to be a K-9 officer.”

Hussar will gain not only a partner, but a new member of his family.

“I have another dog that will hopefully keep him busy at home,” he said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for the K-9 unit. For details, go to www.gofundme.com/sharpsburg-police-k9-team.

Christine Manganas is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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