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PH K-9 now on patrol

K-9 Officer Zach Hedrick stands with the Park Hills Police Department's new police dog, Max, at the start of their first shift together Tuesday afternoon. 

The Park Hills Police Department's K-9 fundraising efforts over the past few months have culminated with the newest addition to the force beginning patrol work on Tuesday.

Max is a 2-year old Belgian Malinois with a friendly and laid back personality until it’s time to go to work and focus on the tasks at hand. According to the American Kennel Club, the smart, confident, and versatile Belgian Malinois is a world-class worker who forges an unbreakable bond with his human partner.

The police dog’s human counterpart on the force will be Officer Zach Hedrick. Max and Hedrick recently returned from a four-week training program in Ohio. A training program is required of all K-9 units prior to being used for official police business.

During the training, Hedrick and Max learned to work together in various capacities of police duty. Max will be used by the department for tracking, drug detection, officer protection, and public relations.

Since the K-9 fundraising campaign began in April, the community has come together at barbecues, with raffles, donations, and other events to bring a K-9 unit the city’s police department, which has not had a K-9 unit since 2001.

The target goal of the fundraiser was to raise $20,000 to not only purchase the dog but also to equip the department with everything necessary to operate a K-9 unit. Some of the costs included equipping a patrol car to be “K-9 ready” and acquiring the gear that was needed when handling the dog.

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By the end of June, the department had exceeded their fundraising goal and began the process of getting Max.

Hedrick picked Max up at the end of June and the two spent three weeks together getting acquainted before leaving for the four-week training in Ohio. They arrived back in town this week with training under their belts and the K-9 unit began its first patrol Tuesday afternoon.

Regular K-9 training will continue as the state requires at least 16 hours of training per month. Hedrick said that he has been training four to five nights a week with Max as the dog gets used to the duties of the job.

The police department expressed appreciation to the community for aiding in the fundraising efforts.

“I want to thank everybody,” said Hedrick. “I want to thank all the businesses and individuals for the support in getting to this point.”

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