During last Thursday’s Genoa Township trustees meeting, trustees held a retirement ceremony for the township’s 8-year-old German Shepherd police dog, Gandolf; and welcomed on board the township’s new canine, a Belgian Malinois named Ben.
Township Police Chief Steve Gammill said canines have become an integral part of law enforcement and that they are considered fellow officers, not just dogs. He said Gandolf’s certification expires at the end of June, and he has medical issues that would impact his continued performance as a police dog.
“Gandolf came to us in 2012 through private donations,” Gammill said. “He has been a faithful and hard-working officer, but in 2014 he suffered a life-threatening condition. At the time his chances of survival were slim, even with surgery, but Gandolf survived.”
Gammill said Gandolf’s handler, Officer Jason Berner, became one of the township’s two school resource officers at the beginning of the current school year, and only works as a part-time K-9 officer when school is not in session. Berner has been a K-9 handler with the department the past 13 years.
“We decided it’s not prudent to transfer Gandolf to another officer because his medical condition is likely to deteriorate over time, and because of his age,” Gammill said. “We are recommending the trustees to sell Gandolf to the Berner family for $1.”
After trustees approved Gandolf’s retirement and sale to the Berner family, trustees swore in the township’s new K-9 handler, Officer Mike Sigman, and Ben.
Trustee Karl Gebhardt thanked Berner and Gandolf for their service and also thanked members of the community for their donations to the township’s police canine fund.
Trustee chair Rick Carfagna welcomed Sigman and Ben as the township’s newest K-9 team.
“When one door closes, another door opens,” Carfagna said.
Carfagna also noted that 2016 marks the 40th year of the township police department. The township’s fire department is in its 15th year.
“How grateful we all are for our safety services and first-responders for keeping us safe,” Carfagna said.
Reporter Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093