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Cleveland Metroparks Rangers have an adorable new addition. K-9 Gambit officially became the newest member of the force on Thursday morning, February 7 as he was introduced to his new handler, Ranger Michael Kort, and the rest of the Ranger staff at Ranger Headquarters.
The German shepherd puppy, born December 24, is the fourth puppy donated to the department by Tom and Kathy Schmidt, owners of Schmidt's of Macedonia and coordinators of the Buckeye Area Regional K-9 (BARK) training group in Medina. According to Tom Schmidt, Gambit is an energetic little puppy and comes from a bloodline that has worked well for the Rangers in the past. The black with sable-pawed puppy has the same mother as Rocky, the oldest of the Ranger's working K-9s.
Lt. Sean Flanigan heads up the Rangers K-9 Unit and has extensive knowledge about working with police dogs. He was the handler for K-9 Radar who was retired from service last fall. Other experienced officers in the unit, including Lt. Robert Pofolk and 8-year-old K-9 Rocky and Sgt. Tim Garris and 1.5-year-old K-9 Logan, will work closely with Ranger Kort and Gambit to establish the best training environment possible. Ranger Kort and Gambit begin training immediately under the supervision of Tom Schmidt and the BARK training group.
Ranger Kort began his career in the Ranger Department as a dispatcher in 2001. He has been a full-time Ranger since he was promoted in 2011. He also worked as a police officer for both, Olmsted Township and Wakeman Village. Kort says, �I have always had a pet dog since I was a kid, but this is very different. I believe this is an exciting time for the K-9 Unit, as well as Cleveland Metroparks. I look forward to learning about handling a police dog and the growing experience this offers the Park District, Gambit and me.�
Ranger Chief Daniel Veloski says, �I can think of no better illustration of this department's mission than the addition of another K-9 partner to our team. The K-9 and his handler provide both superior service AND law enforcement in a way that no other innovative policing approach can do. This dog, not unlike our others, will be certified in narcotics detection, tracking for people and articles, and apprehension. Ranger Kort and his K-9 will also be called upon to serve Greater Cleveland daily in a community outreach, service and public relations role.�
Following the handover of the puppy to Ranger Kort, the media and other visitors were invited to the K-9 training facility adjacent to Ranger Headquarters to observe the puppy's first day of on-the-job training in the BARK training program. About 10 to 15 other local police K-9s and their handlers, including the Ranger's-own Rocky and Logan, were also there and shared some demonstrations.