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Police dog’s bite raises questions about K9 program

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
May 13, 2010
— A freshly trained police dog bit an employee at the Edgerton Police Department earlier this week, causing injuries to the worker and raising questions about the future of the department’s fledgling K9 program.

Edgerton City Administrator Ramona Flanigan said a full report on the incident wasn’t available Wednesday but that Edgerton Police Department’s newest addition, Ash, a German shepherd dog trained for narcotics work, bit a female administrative assistant on the arm, injuring the woman.


The incident left the woman with stitches on her arm and a few scratches on her face, Flanigan said. An officer took the woman to Edgerton Hospital, where she was treated and released, Flanigan said.


Flanigan said the incident occurred inside the police department building, but she couldn’t give the time or day of the incident.


A Rock County 911 dispatcher said an Edgerton police officer had reported a possible dog bite at 10:30 a.m. Monday, following an incident at 9:44 a.m.


Flanigan said the city’s public safety committee will meet at 4 p.m. Friday to discuss how to handle the incident. For now, she said the dog is being kept at the home of its handler, Edgerton Police Chief Tom Klubertanz.


“We’re going to gather all of the information, but the dog is not at the police station and won’t be there until this is resolved,” Flanigan said Wednesday.


It’s unclear whether the dog could be taken out of service or whether the city’s K9 program will be suspended following the incident.


The Gazette was unable to reach Klubertanz for comment Wednesday.


The Edgerton City Council this year had approved a grant-funded K9 program. The city had purchased Ash, a 2-year old male, from Steinig Tal Kennel, a certified police dog training center in Campbellsport.


Klubertanz and Ash had just started work in Edgerton this week following 12 weeks of training together at Steinig Tal, Flanigan said.


Steinig Tal’s owner, Larry Filo, said Klubertanz had called a trainer at the kennel following the incident. Filo said he learned the dog might have snapped at the office worker defensively.


“I believe the dog was startled when the (office assistant) came out of a dark hallway, and he was protecting his handler,” Filo said. “As far as I know, as soon as the dog bit, they called the dog off and that was it.”


Filo called the incident “a normal reaction for any dog when they’re bonding with their handler.” He said it can take six months before a police dog and its handler are accustomed to each other.


“Among our trade, it happens a fair amount where you’ll have a new handler where someone isn’t reading the dog and someone gets nipped. It happens,” Filo said.


Filo, who has trained police dogs for 32 years, said the dogs are screened for temperament before training.


In training exercises, including a drug search last week at a high school in Campbellsport, Filo said Klubertanz and Ash showed the markings of a successful narcotics team.


“(Klubertanz) is a very natural handler, and the pair did extremely well in all the drug certification phases,” Filo said. “It’s only on very rare occasions where the wrong person is picked for a dog.”


Filo said if the city decided to take Ash out of service, Steinig Tal would consider replacing the dog with another.


“I want my agencies happy with the dog,” he said.



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