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Edgerton police dog gets new home

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
June 10, 2010
— Edgerton’s embattled police dog, Ash, has a new home.

It’s temporary, but the two-year-old German shepherd is being kept at a private kennel in rural Delavan, at the home of Walworth County Sheriff’s Deputy Bob Wierenga.


The move, officials said this week, will allow the dog to continue K-9 training, and could lead to the city finding an agency interested in buying Ash.


The city decided to take the dog out of service and attempt to sell it after it bit a city employee May 10.


“My intention is to put this dog into a good police dog working environment. It deserves to be an asset someplace,” Wierenga told the Gazette on Wednesday.


Wierenga, a certified K-9 handler, trains police dogs on his own time. He had offered to help the city find a new owner for Ash after the city council voted to take the dog out of service May 17.


The dog’s original seller, Steinig Tal kennel, Campellsport, has refused to let the city return Ash, citing handler error. The dog’s handler, police chief Tom Klubertanz, left the dog unleashed and without a muzzle in his office at the city’s police station shortly before it bit office worker Stephanie Balis on the arm and the face May 10.


Wierenga took Ash on Saturday from Kenlyn kennels, Edgerton, where the city had been paying $19 a day to board the dog. City Administrator Ramona Flanigan said the city approved the move Friday.


Wierenga said he will board and train Ash at no cost to the city and plans to sign a waiver that will free the city of liability while he houses the dog.


“I offered the city my facility so they weren’t incurring cost. This whole thing has not been fair to the city, the taxpayers or the dog,” Wierenga said.


Ash might not have a long layover at Wierenga’s kennel. Already, a kennel that provides dogs for police training is interested in buying the dog, Wierenga said.


He said the kennel is willing to pay a price comparable to the cost of importing a police dog from Germany or Holland.


Wierenga declined to give the name of the kennel, but he said the city is aware of its interest. The city originally purchased Ash for $8,500 plus handler training costs. The dog is trained for narcotics, tracking and handler protection.


Wierenga said he wishes the public could see photographs of Ash playing with him and his wife during training exercises.


“He’s a good dog, and he will make an outstanding police dog,” Wierenga said.



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