BUTLER TOWNSHIP – Butler Township police have a new tool in the fight against crime as canine Zorro was sworn in at Wednesday’s Township Trustees meeting.
Zorro is a Belgin Maninois who is nearly two years old. Officer Amy Carter will be Zorro’s handler which means he is with her 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Carter, who has two Labrador Retrievers, said the transition of adding another dog has been interesting.
“My dogs are 10 and 11 years old, so they aren’t too crazy about having a puppy in the house,” said Carter. “They put him in his place when they need to,” she laughed. “They get a long just fine.”
Carter and Zorro have been training since the beginning of April and were certified last week. Training was conducted at the Southern Ohio Police Canine in Ripley, Ohio.
Zorro has been trained a full-purpose canine which means he can be used to search for drugs, tracking, and apprehension. He will also be used in community outreach programs in the schools and public events – a purpose the department specifically had in mind when it requested a dog with the temperament to be around the community.
“We were fortunate in that some dogs don’t have the demeanor he has that can be in the public,” said Carter. “Some of the dogs are very aggressive, and they can’t be used that way. We want him to serve his purpose, but we specifically asked for a dog who could be out among the community.”
Carter said that suspects who test Zorro will be in for a rude surprise, however.
“The second I start yelling at somebody he becomes a different dog,” she said. “That was one of the most amazing thing for me to see is that as soon as the tone of my voice changes, he turns into a different dog.”
Veterinarian Jason Thorn, owner of Dixie Veterinary Clinic, presented Carter and Police Chief John Cresie a check for $1,000 to purchase a bullet proof vest for Zorro. The funds were raised by Thorn and businesses in the Township.
Thorn’s clinic has agreed to provide veterinary services for the canine at no cost to the Township.
“All of the doctors here enjoy working with working dogs,” said Thorn, “but more importantly, its just being part of the community. We are always looking for ways to make Butler Township better as citizens and we thought this was a win-win way to do it.”
Thorn received donations for the vest from his clients as well as the community after posting an ad on GoFundMe, a crowd-funding website. He said that the response from the community was overwhelming – and fast.
“We had $1,000 within 24-26 hours for the vest which blew me out of the water,” said Thorn. “We all got chills thinking about how fast it happened. People love animals, and they sure don’t want to see an animal that is trying to help us get hurt while doing so. It was a no-brainer getting the dog a vest.”
Thorn said the community is excited for Zorro to begin duty.
“As a community we recognize we have some challenges in Butler Township that need addressed,” he said. “We are all looking for this dog to be part of that.”
Cresie also recognized Vandalia American Legion Post 668 for a donation of $2,000 to help with the start-up costs of the K-9 program. Commander James McKenzie presented Cresie with the check a few weeks ago.
Cresie was appreciative of the support the community has shown for the K-9 program.
“Without their support, there is no way that we could have gotten this project off the ground,” he said.