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June 18, 2021

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Kato back on his police beat

Recertified in June after being on sick leave with a collapsed lung

Here’s the latest on Kato, the Bluffton police department K-9 dog who was on sick leave this spring with a collapsed lung.

Kato returned to work after being medically cleared by the vet. 

He missed his initial recertification with his training group in May due to his illness. 

Once he was cleared, he went to work with Tyler Hochstetler, his police department handler, and rode around in the cruiser, but wasn’t allowed to do anything until he became recertified. 

He successfully recertified on June 19 as a Patrol/Narcotics K9 through the State of Ohio and the National Association OG Professional Canine Handlers (NAPCH). 

“We do want to public ally thank the Bluffton Veterinary Hospital for all of their hard work during Kato’s illness,” said Hochstetler.

“The veterinarians, techs and support staff at the Bluffton Veterinary Hospital were amazing. I know it was a difficult time for them but they were fantastic and extremely supportive along the way, he said. 

“While we do enjoy seeing them, we hope we never have to see them under those circumstances ever again.

“The support from the community was outstanding and we couldn’t be more thankful for the donations we received to help cover his medical bills.”

Background on Kato’s sick leave
Kato went on sick leave this spring, showing signs of an illness in March.

“I took him to the vet because of his lethargic state,” Hochstetler wrote in a letter to Bluffton council on March 27. “ The physician's exam, blood work and X-ray concluded that Kato is suffering from a pneumothorax (collapsed lung).

Collapsed lung
This occurs when air leaks into the space between the lung and the chest wall. The air pushes on the outside of the lung and collapses the lung. Most pneumothorax cases involve some sort of penetrating trauma.

Hochstetler said that Kato did not experiences any trauma, which left the veterinarian confused, adding that there are spontaneous cases that do affect dogs.

The healing of a pneumothorax is a slow process. However, Kato has been on a combination of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications to assist in the healing process.

Kato 2019 accomplishments
Kato involved in numerous police-related duties in 2019. Here’s in an overview of Kato’s accomplishments:
• numerous vehicle sniffs for illegal drugs,
• a school sniff at McComb schools,
• a successful track of a suicidal subject,
•  a track for armed robbery suspects resulting in the location of evidence during the track,  
• and logging over 192 hours of state mandated maintenance training.

During one vehicle sniff in particular, K9 Kato alerted on a vehicle and a subsequent search of the vehicle produced 78.43 grams of crystal methamphetamine, 2.94 grams of fentanyl and .18 grams of a methamphetamine/fentanyl mixture. All felony level amounts of illegal narcotics.

During another vehicle sniff, K9 Kato alerted on a vehicle which, after a subsequent search, resulted in locating 16.5 grams of marijuana concentrate, another felony level drug seizure.

K9 Kato was requested to respond to the Clark gas station on Bluelick Road in rural Allen County after the clerk was robbed at gunpoint.

Allen County requested K9 Kato for a track of the suspects. During the track, it was determined the suspects had gotten in a vehicle and left, however K9 Kato was able to locate three stolen items along the path of the track that were collected and used as evidence.

On June 28, K9 Kato’s birthday, he was called in on his day off to track a missing, suicidal person near the Bluffton University nature preserve. The suspect had harmed himself near the “Swinging Bridge” and officers did not pursue due to the erratic and potentially dangerous behavior the subject was displaying.

After an Allen County deputy observed the suspect run into the thick, wooded area of the nature preserve, K9 Kato was deployed on a track through the thick vegetation and swampy area and ultimately located the subject hiding behind a tree. 

In December, K9 Kato had just returned home from a monthly maintenance training when a pursuit, initiated by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, went by the village.

K9 Kato and Hochstetler joined in the pursuit of the suspect, who stole a motorhome and ran from the police. The pursuit ended at the S.R. 309 exit in Lima. After a standoff of approximately 30 minutes, the suspect gave up and surrendered to police. K9 Kato was used to clear the rest of the motorhome the suspect had stolen.