When Chief Seefeld took over the department in 2003, he assessed the needs of the department and the community. He quickly realized how beneficial a police canine could be to an area such as Murrysville. As a result, the department’s first Canine Team was formed shortly thereafter.
Officer Brian Dulkis was chosen to be the first dog handler in the newly-formed unit. His partner, a German Shepherd born in Hungary, was named “Raz”. Together, Officer Dulkis and Raz served the department in this capacity for approximately six years. Sadly, Raz was retired from official service in 2009, due to physical ailments and mobility restrictions.
During their time together, the team was involved in over 70 drug-related arrests, 74 drug searches, over 100 patrol back-ups, 51 tracking events (some involving missing persons), 61 assistance requests to other law enforcement agencies, and either direct involvement in, or assistance with, 338 criminal arrests.
The unit’s second, and current, dog handler is Sergeant Scott Kettren. Sergeant Kettren’s partner, “Argos”, is a Belgian Malinois from Holland. Argos has been a member of the Murrysville Police Department since 2009.
A significant amount of time and effort is spent when forming a new Canine Team. The officer and the dog are paired together for approximately six to ten weeks of training before they ever hit the streets to patrol together. Although these dogs come pre-trained in certain aspects of police work, they must become acquainted with their new handler in order to function as desired.
The initial weeks of intense training together provide the Canine Team with the ability to not only enhance officer safety, but search techniques and capabilities too, as well as drug detection and interdiction methods. The dog handler will continually train on a regular basis, generally with handlers from other nearby agencies.
Aside from actual police work, some of the most recognized and well received services that Canine Teams provide the Municipality are public relations appearances and demonstrations at the schools, civic groups meetings, Community Day, and the Department’s Citizen’s Police Academy.
Many people will ask, “What happens to the dog when they’re not working and after they retire?” The Canine Team is just that, it’s a team. The dog and its handler will live together when not at work. Essentially, the dog becomes part of the family. Once retired, a handler will generally be allowed to keep his/her partner as a family pet.