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September 23, 2018

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$17,000 goal reached

And contributions continue to be accepted for police department K-9 unit

It took just seven weeks.

Bluffton residents and businesses opened their pocketbooks quickly as $17,000 in pledges and donations was reached earlier this month to fund a K-9 unit for the Bluffton Police Department, according to Ryan Burkholder, police chief.

Burkholder informed Bluffton council on Monday that the goal was reached. He added that donations and pledges are still accepted and continue to come in as a contingency fund is being created for the unit.

“The support is overwhelming,” Burkholder told The Icon.

In addition to money pledged and donated, Iams Co., of Leipsic, will donate dog food and Bluffton Veterinary Hospital and Pet Care Center has volunteered its services to the department.

Burkholder said that it a service dog will not join the department until next summer. An intensive training session with the service dog and its handler, who will be Tyler Hochstetler, police sergeant, starts in March.

On Aug. 14 the police asked and were granted approveal from Bluffton’s council to solicit funds from the public for the dog.

In an earlier interview with Hochstetler, he told the Icon that there are five objectives for adding a K-9 unit to the department and the most important is to keep drugs off the streets and out of the community.

“The growing opioid and drug problem in our area continues to filter into Bluffton despite our best attempts to stop it,” he said.

He added that a K-9 is able to assist officers by performing open-air sniffs of vehicles for narcotics, including marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine and all the derivatives.

In addition, a dual-purpose canine will assist officers in track and search for missing persons, track and apprehend criminals, perform drug, building and area searches, perform article searches and recovery and assist in officer protection.

Persons interested in donating to the project may contact Hochstetler at 419-358-2961, extension 114, or at hochstetlert@bluffton-ohio.com.