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Published: Friday, 8/1/2014

City may appeal dog’s designation

Police K9 bit a child in June


City officials could file an appeal, as early as today, in defense of a Toledo police dog that was deemed “dangerous” by the Lucas County Canine Care & Control office.

“We think J.J. is a pretty good dog and certainly don’t think that he’s dangerous,” said city Law Director Adam Loukx.

Julie Lyle, director of the county dog warden’s office, ruled July 24 that the 20-month-old police dog is dangerous because the dog bit a 9-year-old boy June 11 while at the home of Toledo police Officer Brett Kohlman, J.J.’s handler. Ms. Lyle’s report does not note any specific information about J.J. It was not clear if the dog warden’s office did an evaluation of the dog, although the dangerous designation came at the end of a bite investigation.

After the child was bitten, Toledo police sent Officer Kohlman and J.J. back to the Wapakoneta, Ohio, center where they were initially trained. The trainer, Al Gill, ran the dog and Officer Kohlman through a battery of tests and scenarios. At no time did the dog show aggressive behavior, according to the June 21 report.

“I am not familiar with the Dog Warden in question or that person’s dog experience, training level, knowledge of drives, working dogs, or police dogs. But clearly the person does not understand working dogs and police dogs or they would not be even thinking of calling this dog dangerous,” Mr. Gill wrote.

Ms. Lyle did not respond to requests for comment Thursday on Mr. Gill’s assessment of J.J.

Mr. Gill also wrote that the “situation” leading up to the bite was “unusual” and said it’s possible J.J. could not differentiate between “harmless play” and “doing the job he was trained to do.”

Mr. Gill described J.J. as “a high-energy high-drive, and high-prey-drive dog.”

“[J.J. is] a very good police dog as he has shown in his work record in the short time on the street,” Mr. Gill wrote.

Mr. Loukx said J.J. still is working with Officer Kohlman. He declined to comment further, citing the ongoing court case.

The case in Toledo Municipal Court is neither criminal nor civil, but an appeal of the dangerous designation. This will be the first time the city has to appeal such a ruling. It was not known what would happen should the court uphold Ms. Lyle’s ruling.

“I don’t want to comment on that at this point, but it’s certainly something to be evaluated,” Mr. Loukx said.

Contact Taylor Dungjen at tdungjen@theblade.com, or 419-724-6054, or on Twitter @taylordungjen.

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