Ligonier Township welcomes new police dog
Ligonier Township’s new police dog is proving to be a quick study.
Kilo, a 15-month-old Belgian Malinois, was introduced at a supervisors meeting this week while he completes the training required to help revive the community’s K-9 officer program.
“He still has a lot of puppy in him, but we’re slowly working through it,” said his handler, Sgt. James Friscarella. “Normally, it’s a 12-week process to get him up and going to be on the road. But he’s doing so well that I think we’ll probably be done in 10.”
Police Chief Michael Matrunics said the dog, which was brought from the Czech Republic to Shallow Creek Kennels in Sharpsville, has been in training for about a month.
Kilo was selected from about a half dozen candidates, in large part because he isn’t overly aggressive but is expected to be able to quickly shift into patrol mode on command.
“We wanted one that was more family-friendly and yet able to turn into a proper work dog,” Matrunics said.
Friscarella said Kilo’s training includes getting used to the sound of gunfire and detecting narcotics. Practicing building searches is next on his training agenda.
Township officials are hoping Kilo and Friscarella will pick up where their predecessors, the late Lt. Eric Eslary and his K-9 partner, Blek, left off. A driver headed the wrong way on Route 30 west of Ligonier crashed head-on into the township’s K-9 vehicle on May 5, 2015, killing Eslary and injuring Blek, who has since retired.
Township manager Terry Carcella reported that the municipality’s special account to pay for the K-9 program is at nearly $31,500. Matrunics asked the public to support upcoming fundraising events to generate additional dollars for the account.
“We’re still taking care of Blek for any medical issues that may arise,” he said.
Clair Eugene Fink III, 32, of Ligonier is awaiting trial on third-degree murder and other charges related to the crash that killed Eslary. He has been held at Westmoreland County Prison without bond since his arrest.
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622 or [email protected].