Puppy joins Allegheny County sheriff’s department, gets free license
February 26, 2016 12:51 AM
Deputy Jeffrey Belback holds K-9 Ranger after getting his license.
Darrell Sapp /Post-Gazette
A closeup of the license for Ranger, a 10 week old bloodhound puppy that works for the Allegheny County Sheriff's office.
By Linda Wilson Fuoco / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Most dogs get their licenses in the mail, but K-9 Ranger went “in person” — and with great fanfare — to the Allegheny County Courthouse on Thursday to get his shiny metal license tag from Treasurer John Weinstein.
The 10-week-old bloodhound is the newest addition to the Allegheny County Sheriff’s office, which will train him to track lost children, Alzheimer’s patients and anyone else who needs to be “found.”
Ranger’s journeys to and from Mr. Weinstein’s office were slow, as county office workers ran out to meet and greet the long-eared puppy and coo and cuddle with him.
Ranger wagged his tail when he walked into a room filled with reporters and photographers and other strangers. He posed for cameras and licked the faces of everyone who stooped down to his level for a closer look.
”I really wasn’t expecting anything like this,” said Jeffrey Belback, the sheriff’s deputy who is Ranger’s handler and partner. He has been with the department for three years, and this is his first stint as a K-9 handler. Ranger goes home with him every night.
Ranger — who is mostly liver-colored with tan on his face, legs and big feet — arrived in Pittsburgh on Feb. 18. He has been going to work with Deputy Belback for what dog trainers call “socialization.”
“He improves every day,” said Deputy Maria Watts, who has been a K-9 handler for 10 years. “He is very confident. He has a harness, which lets him know he’s working.”
Deputy Watts has already done some training with the puppy, and she said Ranger shows early signs of talent for sniffing and tracking. The sheriff’s department expects he will be fully trained and certified by September or October.
State law requires licenses for all dogs, Mr. Weinstein said, but K-9s and service and assistance dogs get them for free. Also, Mr. Weinstein has made sure that all police departments have access to license tag numbers, which are used to reunite lost dogs with their owners.
More than 60 people already have called the sheriff’s office asking to meet Ranger, said Chief Deputy Kevin Kraus. In addition to his tracking duties, Ranger probably will be making appearances at schools and other events, he said.
Ranger was donated to the sheriff’s department by DeWayne and Salena King, who breed bloodhounds in Mercer County. They had also donated Max, a bloodhound who worked in the sheriff’s department from 2006 to last fall, when he died of natural causes.
Linda Wilson Fuoco: email@example.com or 412-263-3064.
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