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TIFFIN — The Tiffin police force has a new K-9 officer, named in honor of two fallen law-enforcement officers from northwest Ohio, State Trooper Andy Baldridge and Sandusky Police Officer Andy Dunn.
The year-old Belgian Malinois is going through pretraining with Tiffin Officer Jake DeMonte and will be certified toward the end of summer.
Trooper Baldridge, 25, a graduate of Carey High School who had graduated from the highway patrol’s academy in December, 2009, died Feb. 3, 2010, when his cruiser crashed near Carey.
Officer Dunn, 30, was shot and killed March 19, 2011, while questioning a suspect on a bicycle.
“We want to honor these two brave men who tragically lost their lives keeping us safe,” said Officer DeMonte. “We want to keep their legacy alive through K-9 Andy.”
Tiffin’s Fraternal Order of Police donated K-9 Andy to the Tiffin force. The FOP is still seeking tax-deductible donations to put him through school; about half of the $6,000 has been raised.
The Vanguard-Sentinel Career and Training Center in Tiffin has scheduled a fund-raiser dinner on April 20. The students in the school’s criminal justice class already have adopted Andy as their mascot.
After a six-week training program this summer with former Fremont K-9 officer Brian Woods at Lynnwoods Kennels in Fremont, Andy will be certified by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy and then will be officially on duty.
Officer DeMonte’s wife, Erin, has created a Facebook fan page for the Tiffin PD at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tiffin-PD-K9-Unit/.
She also created the page that solicited donations for the $5,000 treatment of Mr. DeMonte’s previous K9 Officer, Tommy. The 7-year-old Dutch shepherd died of Stage 4 lymphoma in February.
“The outpouring of support has been truly inspiring for us,” Mrs. DeMonte wrote on the Save K9 Tommy Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SaveK9Tommy, which has about 2,800 fans. “We were not grieving alone. All the support brought us comfort and solace. We weren’t afraid to cry because we knew that so many of you were not only crying with us, but were there to comfort and guide us through it all.”
Donations started coming in right away for Andy, sooner than the couple had expected.
“To be honest, we did not even plan on asking for donations that soon, but you guys were great,” Mrs. DeMonte wrote. “You knew we needed another dog and wanted to help us.”
Andy was purchased from a kennel in Bowling Green, Ky., for $3,000. The kennel, Mohawks Malinois, was recommended by the Akron Police Department, which has obtained several dogs for K-9 units from there.
The DeMontes drove the 14-hour round trip in their personal car on their own time to look at “Mohawks Cowboy,” Andy’s original name.
“Within the first five minutes, we knew this was the dog for Tiffin,” Officer DeMonte said. A few days later, Tiffin’s police chief went with Officer DeMonte to pick the dog up. Andy arrived in Tiffin on March 5, but the DeMontes said they wanted to wait until after Tommy’s memorial service to introduce him. Officer DeMonte also needed to introduce him at a City Council meeting. Andy officially became K-9 Andy on March 19.
Andy is a friendly dog who loves the attention, but in a flash (on command, of course), he can become an aggressive police dog who means all business. Unlike his predecessor, Andy is more on the social side and loves to be petted, even by strangers, said Officer DeMonte.
“That was something we really wanted, a more social dog,” said Officer DeMonte, who has been a K9 officer since 2007.
Besides being used for narcotics detection, he will also go out regularly with Officer DeMonte to schools and community events. “The experience I learned with Tommy I can apply to training Andy the right way,” he said.
Andy goes home every night with Officer DeMonte, where he shares a house with two other dogs, Gin, a 9-year-old German shepherd/golden retriever mix and Chewie, a 1-year-old golden retriever.
Chewie is happy to have a young playmate to run with, Officer DeMonte said.
“He gets along great with the other dogs,” Officer DeMonte said of Andy. “He immediately fit right in.”
Contact Tanya Irwin at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6066