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Kilo is only 3 years old, but he carries a badge for the Cuyahoga Falls Police Department.
The snow white German shepherd is one of two dogs on the recently revived K-9 unit in Cuyahoga Falls. Canine trainer Sgt. Perry Tabak, who handles Kilo, and Patrolman David Holzapfel, who handles Diesel – the other four-legged officer of the law – are thrilled to have the K-9 unit back in action.
Cuyahoga Falls — A 2-year-old German shepherd named Diesel met Council June 22, marking the return of the city’s K-9 unit which disbanded in 2006 due to staff and budget changes.
The 90-pound police dog was accompanied by Capt. Jack Davis of the department’s patrol division, and David Holzapfel, a Falls police officer for five years and Diesel’s handler.
Councilmember Mary Ellen Pyke (R-2) said she has been “passionate” about bringing back the K-9 unit and she appreciates the efforts of the administration and police department to make that happen.
Davis said getting Diesel was made possible by Sgt. Perry Tabak, a certified K-9 trainer and former handler for CFPD. Tabak is now a detective in the department’s narcotics unit.
Holzapfel said Diesel is from the Czech Republic imported to Canada. The two have been together for three months, he said.
Diesel was activated June 17. Holzapfel said he hasn’t had to use Diesel yet, but added “he’s ready to go.” Holzapfel was one of eight Falls officers who applied to be Diesel’s handler. Davis said he and Tabak faced a tough decision when they had to pick the dog’s partner. “We had a lot of good candidates,” he said.
Pyke said reinstating the K-9 unit was one of the benefits of the city’s establishing a mayor’s court in January.
Legislation approved by City Council late last year stated part of the revenue from mayor’s court fines would go toward re-establishing the K-9 unit.
“We think Diesel will bring us tremendous success in our battle for apprehending drug offenders,” said Mayor Don Robart. “I think [the K-9 unit is] going to be a core part of our ongoing battle against crime.”
“He’s a great dog,” said Tabak. “A lot of high energy, good drive. He can be social when he needs to be, and then turn it on when he’s working, which is what I look for when I’m selecting a dog. I think he and Dave are going to be a great team.”
Diesel is a special purpose dog trained for narcotics detection and searches for articles such as weapons, he said. In the future, Tabak added, Diesel could be trained as a patrol dog to perform such duties as criminal apprehensions and building searches.
According to Tabak, a police dog from the Czech Republic normally costs up to $6,000 or more, however, he was able to purchase Diesel through someone he knows for only $500.
“The importer pretty much donated the dog, we just covered some of their import expenses,” he said.
“He’s a great dog at a great price,” Tabak said, adding that because he did the training instead of an outsider, the city saved between $15,000 and $20,000.
Pyke said there is a genuine enthusiasm within the police department and community concerning the K-9 unit’s return. She said she can identify with the residents who saw a need in the city for a police dog.
“For someone who lives in the part of the city that I do where we have had meth labs and we have had busts because of narcotics — I think that the public has said, ‘We need the K-9 unit,’” she said. Just seeing the dog, Pyke said, shows the public that the police are serious about their efforts to fight drug crimes.
“That’s a very intimidating-looking dog,” she said, adding that Diesel also has a tender side, made evident when he licked the faces of two curious children outside the Natatorium before the meeting.