The Haverford Township Police Department recently added another member to its force.
Trained in patrol work, drug detection and evidence recovery, Kato is the fourth dog to join the force’s K9 unit. He joins three others, born and bought in the Czech Republic, who are “supporting and complementing the police’s mission,” said Chief Carmen D. Pettine.
The dogs live with their handlers: Officer Doug Linker and Jango, Officer John Valvardi and Barr, Officer Stephen Gill and Jager and Officer Mark Semerad and Kato. Kato was added to the force so that each platoon has its own canine officer.
The dogs work 80 hours in a two-week period, Pettine said, and are timesaving tools for the department. For example, they can search a building faster than any human, he said. Having its own K9 unit also allows the force to put the dogs to work immediately when needed, before a possible trail goes cold.
The dogs are not trained for bomb detection. In that situation they would have to get dogs from somewhere else. But Linker told Haverford Patch that Jango has already been called on to support other police departments with his drug sniffing capability.
At 17 months old, Jango “still a lot of puppy in him, but he loves the work,” Linker said. He has even already met golfing legend Arnold Palmer at the U.S. Open, held recently at Merion Golf Club. At the U.S. Open the dogs were used for crowd control, Pettine said.
The dogs are also trained in handler protection, and they are very protective of their handlers, Semerad said. Each officer has a remote that deploys the dogs from their police cars. The cars have been fitted with an automatic temperature gauge that lowers the windows if it reaches a certain temperature.
Each dog costs $11,000 per dog per year for veterinary care, food and a stipend for the handlers.