The Johnstown Police Department’s new K-9, Spike, is on the job.
He follows in the paw prints of K-9 Ipor, who Lt. Mark Gifford said retired just a few days ago.
Spike, like Ipor and Guido before him, is a Belgian malanois and was obtained from Daniel Bowman’s Gold Shield Kennels in Columbus, Ohio.
Chief Greg Horning said his department has had good success with the breed, and good success with the kennel.
“He’s a great dog,” said Horning, as Spike lay on the floor of Gifford’s office panting after training Tuesday.
Spike is about 1 year old, said his handler, Patrolman Adam Schwabrow.
Schwabrow, who has been an officer for five years, said he’s excited to be a certified K-9 handler after completing the 200-hour course.
“It was fun. Long days. It started at 7 in the morning and usually we got done around four or five o’clock,” he said.
Schwabrow said Spike is a patrol and narcotics dog who is also excellent at tracking.
Spike hasn’t been in on any arrests yet but he made a lot of children happy at last Friday’s parade.
Horning said the dog’s mission is twofold: crime fighting and public relations.
“The dog comes in the room and everybody’s got to pet him,” Horning said.
Gifford, who was Guido’s handler, agreed.
“They’re a good law enforcement tool as well as a great PR tool. The kids in school, they love the dog, as well as the general public. And you can’t beat a dog’s nose,” he said.
Schwabrow said he learned a lot taking the course and is glad to be on patrol with his furry new partner.
“I’m excited. It’s been interesting so far. I’m still amazed at what he can do. It really extends my capabilities as a patrolman,” Schwabrow said.
’He’s got a really good nose on him,” he continued. “He was finding stuff that other dogs were missing [during training]. He can track, both for felony apprehensions and a missing child, and do an area search.”
The dog is trained to perform building searches as well, Schwabrow said. During training in Broadalbin Tuesday Spike was let in the front door of the old school and promptly found the “suspect” hiding in one of the rooms, Schwabrow said.
Spike is the department’s fifth K-9. The first two, Hogan and Magnum, were German shepherds. Guido is buried outside the police station. Ipor, who like Guido served about eight years, will spend his retirement with his handler, Patrolman Eric Johnson, and his family.
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