PITTSBURGH, PA (Jan. 24, 2020) – Five new regional K9s were sworn into duty at a graduation ceremony at the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police K9 Training Academy.
“We’re very fortunate to have the K9 program in the city -- the handlers are just fantastic in what they do,” Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said. “Unfortunately, sometimes they give their lives to protect officers and to protect the public. … We appreciate what you do and as long as I’m Public Safety Director, you’ll have my full support for the K9 program.”
The ceremony marked the end of an intensive three-month training program at the K9 Academy, where Pittsburgh Police train K9 officers and handlers from agencies throughout Region 13, which includes counties in southwestern Pennsylvania.
“I want to thank you for taking a dog and making it your partner, and to them for allowing you to be their partner,” Police Chief Scott Schubert said. “It’s a job that not everybody can do. And sometimes it’s a job that not everybody appreciates because they don’t see the amount of work you do, not just the work itself but at home. It really is a 24/7 job.”
Graduates in this class included members of Pittsburgh Police, Butler City Police and the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department:
-- Pittsburgh Police Officer Kevin Foley and K9 Shadow
-- Pittsburgh Police Officer Matt Schwartzmiller and K9 Miky
-- Butler City Police Lt. Brian Grooms and K9 Chooch
-- Butler City Police Patrolman Andrew Niederlander and K9 Rico
-- Lawrence County Sheriff’s Deputy John Baldelli and K9 Baki
In addition, Pittsburgh Police Officers Kevin Foley, Rich Houck and Kevin Merkel received training certificates to work as K9 instructors.
“You’ve all worked very hard, you’ve all overcome your own personal hurdles with your dogs,” said Sgt. William Watts, one of the K9 instructors. “I still remember seeing you guys two weeks in, you were swearing to me you’d never graduate, that it would never come together. I told you if you kept the faith, the hard work would pay off. And here you are.”