An average career length of a police dog is 5 to 8 years, with a great deal depending on the health of the dog as it ages.
So, as K-9 officer Jozek turned 7-years-old last month, Ellwood City police don’t know how much longer their police dog can continue his duties. Happily, after over a year of searching for the right “mate,” Jozek had his first litter of puppies Thursday.
It all began last year as Ellwood City Council voted unanimously to put Jozek through a breeding process for his replacement when the time comes. Jozek’s handler, officer Michael McBride, and Mayor Court both feel as though it’s important to keep the bloodline of such a fine police dog going.
Impressively, Jozek has some great stats.
As of 2010, he had some 222 deployments including 37 apprehensions, 23 building searches, 85 narcotics searches and 26 tracking assignments finding and apprehending suspects who had fled the scene.
Also, Jozek’s keen nose led to the seizure of 294 grams of cocaine, 969 grams of marijuana, 2 grams of methadone, 93 pills and 91 pieces of drug paraphernalia.
Now, with Jozek a father and seven puppies to his name, the next step will be to choose a future replacement from the litter.
After examining the entire litter, McBride will pick out the puppy with the best prospects for being an effective police dog. The remaining puppies will be sold anywhere from $800 to $1000, according to Mayor Court, and the money will go back to the borough.
And not only is the breeding method a great way to keep Jozek’s fine genetics “in play,” this method also saves the borough thousands of dollars.
Typically, police dogs range in costs from $8,000 to $12,000. And, with training factored into this cost, most police departments will pay nearly $15,000 for a quality K-9 officer. Ellwood City borough is paying nearly nothing for their process.
In fact, thanks to the generosity of Jo-Don Kennel in Beaver Falls, Mayor Court said that the owner, Joe Williams, allowed Jozek to breed with his female German Shepherd and keep the litter at no cost.
“We’re very fortunate and very lucky,” said Mayor Court. “The German Shepherd is his best; it’s very obedient, great bloodlines, and no problems whatsoever.”
Once the future K-9 is chosen, it will go through extensive training with Officer McBride – the training is completed with an expert in the field in Penn Hills, followed by additional work in classroom and community training in Monroeville.
Mayor Court said the breeding has come at the perfect time. He said by the time all training is completed, Jozek may be at the point of retirement. Court thinks Jozek has a good three to four years left because of his current condition.
“We’re all very happy the way this is turning out,” said Court.