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A new deputy was welcomed with open arms and lots of pats on the head at the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday.
A 3-month-old German shepherd was donated to the sheriff’s office by Steve Strauss, owner of Strauss Fencing, after Brico, an 11-year-old Dutch malinois suddenly passed away in March.
The new puppy, which may be named by county school children, will replace Brico on the department, but will have Deputy Justin Thompson as his partner. Brico was Lt. Pete Fisher’s partner.
Sheriff Matt Lutz said he has invited all the schools in the county and city to submit three names for the puppy. The final decision on a name will be up to Thompson, Lutz said, but if one of the names submitted is picked, the puppy will make a visit to the school.
Thompson will be taking the puppy through training with the Licking County Sheriff’s Office K-9 units and could be trained and certified in drug work by the time the he is 9-months-old, Lutz said.
“It’s going to take longer to get him trained for the street,” Lutz said. “But we’re hoping that the Fraternal Order of the Eagles will be able to fund the training for the puppy which would allow the department to purchase a bomb dog.”
Strauss said the puppy was picked for the department due to his deposition.
“He’s a real curious George,” Strauss said. “Loud noises don’t seem to bother him and he’s pretty calm.”
Strauss has had one other shepherd that is now a K-9 officer in the Akron/Canton area.
“I initially offered the puppy to Pete Fisher after he lost Brico,” Strauss said. “But Pete’s still got Zero and once Zero retires, Pete won’t be doing K-9 anymore.”
Lutz said he jumped at the chance when Strauss made the offer.
“We opened up the position and had six deputies apply,” Lutz said. “Justin was our first pick and for the bomb dog we’re going to have Deputy Ryan Paisley.”
Thompson seemed to fall in love with the puppy the minute it was laid in his arms.
“He’s huge,” Thompson grinned. “I told my daughter she could hold him but I’m thinking that maybe that’s not the way it’s going to be.”
Thompson took the puppy home with him and said the puppy will be integrated into his household as a family member.
Thompson is married to Detective Amy Thompson and the couple have two children, Hannah, 5, and Carson, 2.
“They’re really excited,” Amy said. “They can’t wait to have the puppy home.”
Lutz said with the new puppy, the department will have a K-9 unit for each of the four patrol shifts and the bomb dog will be working when and where needed. Right now the department has Fisher with Zero, Deputy Pat Keck with Nitro and Deputy Jason Yerian with Yorich.
With the funding from the Eagles, Lutz said the department would save about $10,000.
“That enables us to purchase the bomb dog and we couldn’t be happier,” Lutz said. “I want to thank Steve and the Eagles for giving us this opportunity and great addition to the department.”
Lutz said he is hoping that by 2010 the department will have the puppy fully trained and on the streets.