BARNESVILLE - The village police department recently gained a new four-legged officer, Dixie.
Dixie is partnered with Officer Ben Neuhardt.
The duo was recently certified and started shifts at the Barnesville Police Department. This is the first K-9 Unit that Barnesville has ever had.
T-L Photo/ KAYLA?VAN DYNE
Pictured are Barnesville Police Chief David Norris, K-9 Handler Ben Neuhardt and Dixie standing next to the K-9 vehicle.
Dixie is 16-months-old is and is a dual-purpose dog. A dual-purpose dog means that, along with sniffing out drugs, she can track and apprehend suspects.
She is also one of the only female K-9 units in Belmont County.
Her partner, Neuhardt has been a police officer for four years. Along with Barnesville Police Department, he has also worked at Woodsfield Police Department.
"This is long overdue and will be a big benefit to the department and for the town," said Barnesville Police Chief David Norris. "I can see a lot of good things coming out of this. (Officer Ben Neuhardt is a real good guy and he has the right temperament to handle a dog. I see nothing but good out of it."
Neuhardt has always had pet German Shepherds and currently has one now. He also agrees that Barnesville could benefit from having a K-9 Unit in town. Once Norris asked Neuhardt, he had no problem with taking on the responsibility.
When training for Neuhardt started, he had another dog, a black German Shepherd, but he did not work out when it came to the biting.
Dixie was imported from the Czech Republic.
"She was imported on May 30 and we started working with her that day and I have been with her ever since," said Neuhardt.
Neuhardt believes the pros of having Dixie is the intimidation factor and cutting down on drugs. He also believes that it will be a big learning factor for the kids since they are real interested in the dogs.
"She will also be a lot of help when someone runs or if we have to look for somebody," said Norris.
Some of the biggest challenges of training was the heat and the long hours.
"It's an animal, so it's the aggravation that one day she will be great and the next day she will have mood where she won't do what she's supposed to do," Neuhardt said. "But she's a good dog."
According Norris, the reason the Barnesville Police Department finally got a K-9 Unit due to the frustrations with its drug work only being able to go to a certain point and having to stop on our chance to search.
"This dog will be a better tool for those situations where we got stopped at a certain point in the past. Now, with this dog, it hits on where ever we are at on a car," said Norris.
The department approached council about getting starting a K-9 Unit. So far it has also received donations from Chestnut Bowling Lanes and Hess Oil. Bostic & Son Construction donated its time and laid concrete for the kennel. Majority of her expenses will come from drug money.
"It has all been positive from the community. Everybody seems to have really taken to the dog and Neuhardt," said Norris. "I want to thank everyone who has helped out and made donations."
Van Dyne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.