There's going to be a new face at Cleveland Metroparks Rangers Headquarters starting October 28. An adorable, whiskered face to be exact. That's the day the Ranger division accepts the donation of a 6-week-old German shepherd puppy to be trained as its next K-9 officer.
The puppy will meet his new handler, Ranger Mike Barr, for the first time at a press conference to be held at 10 a.m. Monday, October 28 at Euclid Park Elementary, 17914 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland.
The puppy's name, which was chosen by Barr, will be revealed at the press conference after the public has a chance to guess the name during an online contest kicking off on Monday, October 21. A random winner will be chosen from the correct entries to receive a Cleveland Metroparks prize pack.
The law enforcement tradition of having the handler name the dog is vital to the lifelong bond the two of them will share. The dog will live with Barr 24-7 for the rest of its life. Due to the age and career experience level of most officers that become handlers, and the longevity of a dog's life, many handlers will only get to be partnered with one K-9 officer in their career.
During the news conference, the students at Euclid Park will be among the first members of the public to see the puppy and will get a demonstration from the Rangers' other K-9 units on the kind of work police dogs perform.
After he completes his training, the new puppy will join the Rangers' three other active duty K-9 officers, Rocky, Logan and Gambit, in the field. All of the K-9 officers in the division, including retired K-9 Radar, were donated by police dog trainer Tom Schmidt, founder of Buckeye Area Regional K-9 Training Unit, or BARK for short. The length of time spent preparing for active duty will depend on a number of factors.
�The amount of time it takes to train a K-9 officer completely depends on the dog and the handler,� said the head of the Ranger's K-9 unit, acting Capt. Sean Flanigan. �We start with narcotics and detection first, which could take up to nine months. Then after the dog becomes a little more mature, we move on to apprehension training, which could take up to a year and a half. We don't rush it, it's very intense training.�
Cleveland Metroparks Ranger Division has a long history of dedication to the Park District and Northeast Ohio. Since its founding in 1920 as the Cleveland Metropolitan Park District Police Department and the hiring of its first officer in 1921, the Rangers have protected generations of park visitors.