2 county police dogs head for retirement Department seeks German shepherds as replacements

August 17, 1993|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer

The Howard County Police Department is losing two of its finest -- and looking for a pair of furry, four-legged replacements.

Six-year veteran Max, a German shepherd dog with the county's canine corps, retired June 17 at more than seven years of age, because his handler-partner, Sgt. Timothy Paul Black, was promoted to patrol sergeant and has new duties.

Meanwhile, Pepi, another German shepherd, will retire as soon as two new dogs are selected. His handler-partner, Cpl. Richard Housman, was promoted to patrol corporal and also has new duties.

The dogs are being retired because of the time required to train a new handler for that dog, said Sergeant Black.

Canines have been part of the department since 1960, when two officers volunteered their own dogs for police work, said Sergeant Black, who worked with Max, his personal pet, for six years.

While on duty, the dogs work late evening to early morning shifts. They search buildings, trail suspects and missing people, and assist in crowd control.

When he was active, Max was responsible for about 80 apprehensions, his partner said. In one case in Columbia, he found two elusive burglars, including one who had hidden on a roof.

The county pays a total of $1,000 each year to feed the canines and $3,500 for their veterinarian bills, said Sgt. Gary L. Gardner, a police spokesman.

Generally, police dogs are retired at between 8 and 10 years of age, he said.

As they have before, police officials are turning to the public to find healthy male German shepherds between 12 and 18 months old to fill the need for canine patrol.

Anyone wishing to donate a dog is asked to call Cpl. Morris Carroll at 313-2208 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The dogs that are chosen will be paired with a police officer and attend a 10- to 16-week training program at the Baltimore County Police K-9 Training Center.

After graduation, the dogs will join Boss and Dino, the department's other canines. Dino is the only dog trained to sniff for drugs. The dogs reside with their handlers when off-duty.

"We'd like to get the dogs on board as soon as possible," said Sergeant Gardner. "There's no deadline per se."

The dogs provide services that humans cannot, said Sergeant Black, saying they are faster and more intimidating than humans.

"He's probably the best partner I've had," Sergeant Black said of Max.

"It's true what they say, dogs are extremely loyal and you can trust them 100 percent."

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