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Edgerton puts collar on K-9 program

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
May 18, 2010
— A police dog that bit a city employee last week is headed back to the kennel where it was purchased, raising questions about whether the Edgerton Police Department's new K-9 program will continue.

The Edgerton City Council voted unanimously on Monday to take Ash, a 2-year-old male German shepherd, out of service after it bit an office worker in the arm and face May 10.


The move means the dog will be sent back to Steinig Tal kennel, Campbellsport, where it was certified and trained for narcotics and tracking earlier this year.


City Administrator Ramona Flanigan said this week the city will talk with Steinig Tal over replacement of the dog. The dog will be taken from its handler, Police Chief Tom Klubertanz, and sent back to the kennel as soon as possible, she said.


The decision essentially shelves the city's new K-9 program.


"There's no dog, so there can't be a dog program," Flanigan said Monday.


If the city reaches an agreement with the kennel, the department would have to train a new dog. That could take months, officials said. Then, the city would have to find an officer willing to be the new dog's handler.


Klubertanz said Monday that if the city gets a new police dog, he will not be its handler.


"I'm not interested in training another dog. Right now, they'd have to determine how they'd have another officer be a handler. I wouldn't be interested turning around right now and starting over," he said.


The dog bit and injured an office assistant May 10 at the police department after Klubertanz left it untied and without a muzzle in his office. In April, during training at Steinig Tal, the dog also bit an officer from another department, injuring the officer.


Aldermen on Monday said the city could be open to large injury claims or loss of insurance if the dog bit again.


Still, if the city got another police dog, the council would arrange to have it trained for narcotics and tracking. Like Ash, the new dog would be trained to protect its handler against threats during tracking exercises.


Officials had speculated that the bites to the office worker May 10 happened because the dog had become momentarily protective of its handler, and did not respond to Klubertanz's commands to stop.


Judy Schultz of Edgerton, one of a handful of concerned residents who spoke at the meeting Monday, said she wants to see the city publish a full police dog policy before the police department puts a new dog into service.


But at this point, it's not clear whether a local police dog policy is a moot point.


The city had budgeted $12,000 for purchase and training of the first dog, and had paid for part of it with a grant and donations.


It's not clear how much more it could cost to train a new dog.



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