LEWISBURG — There’s a new four-legged officer in town.
The Lewisburg Police Department has been working on training a German Shepherd named Apollo for its Ohio K9 Certification, and he will be certified by the end of the month. The department acquired the dog in early November and he has been living with Corporal Andrew Johnson ever since.
Corporal Johnson and Apollo are a team. They have to train together, live together, and eventually work together. Currently, Apollo does not go out into the field. He will not go into the field until he has received his certification, but he is going out into the community for “meet and greets.”
By the end of January, Apollo and Johnson should be working the road together.
The process of getting a K9 unit started for Lewisburg Police Department two years ago. They were trying to gain funds for the dog, without using tax payer dollars. This goal was achieved through numerous donors, including Royal Canin. Apollo’s food is provided by Royal Canin for his lifetime.
In early November department officials went to Vohne Liche Kennels in Indiana to look at the different dogs available. Royal Canin helped check the dogs out, including their medical records. The department chose three dogs, and Royal Canin recommended Apollo.
Apollo then had to do six weeks of training with Johnson.
Apollo is a 75-pound 2-year-old German Shepherd originally from Hungary.
Vohne Liche Kennels boasts having friendly dogs and Apollo is no exception to the norm. It is what Lewisburg Police Department most wanted in the dog they chose.
“We were looking for a personable, social dog to be out in the public,” Lewisburg Chief of Police Rick McGee said. “Some dogs are very high driven. For different cities, they are more aggressive. We did not want an aggressive dog. Apollo is high driven, but he is not an aggressive animal.
“We want to get him out in the public, we want to make sure he remains social,” McGee continued. “The way to do that is to make sure he does meet and greets. We will schedule him days so he can go out and do whatever. Or we will schedule demonstrations. We will do everything we can just to keep him out.”
“We want to be able to take him into the schools and have him not look like ‘there’s a chew toy,’ but like there’s someone to pet him,” McGee said.
While friendly, he is a hard worker.
“He is a dual purpose dog. He will do tracking, narcotics, and he will do apprehension and patrol work,” Johnson added.
Apollo will mostly be doing tracking and drug work, the apprehension part of his job is only a small part.
Johnson was chosen as the handler simply because he had an interest in being a K9 handler. However, with his shift, Apollo will be working the night shift. He will eventually “fluctuate” and work day shift, but Apollo’s biggest shift will be midnight.
Community support for Apollo is high. “It is crazy the amount of support we have gotten,” Johnson said. “Chief will go to the mail box and there will be four or five thank-you cards and checks to donate to our K9 fund.
“It’s very honorable to work for a department that the community stands behind.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH