CRANBERRY TWP — Ten years ago, police in Jackson Township had an idea to partner with a local animal hospital for care of K-9 units.
Animal General in La Salle Plaza was chosen to take up the mantle.
“We just want to keep them in top shape, so they can perform,” said veterinarian Mike Hutchinson.
Police visited Animal General on Monday to celebrate the partnership’s decennial milestone with a plaque presentation.
“Your professionalism and generosity have greatly enhanced the program’s ability to protect the residents of Jackson Township and surrounding communities,” the plaque states.
The township’s K-9 officer, Aron, a 3-year-old German shepherd, also was in attendance Monday.
His handler, Officer Vaughn Pulgini, said K-9 officers like Aron benefit from the care given to them.
“My previous partner (Hutch) was able to work 10 years, and one of the primary parts of working with a K-9 unit is the health a dog receives,” Pulgini said.
Animal General provides voluntary preventive or medical health care for the department’s K-9 units, including blood work and basic needs.
When Jackson Township’s K-9 program first collaborated with Animal General, there were two K-9 officers, Ranger and Hutch, the latter of which retired in 2015.
“It’s unusual for a K-9 dog to serve 10 years,” Police Chief Terry Seilhamer said.
The other officer, Ranger, was the police bomb search dog until he retired in 2011.
Aron was inducted into the police department in September 2015.
“It’s a regional asset,” Seilhamer said of the K-9 program.
Until last October when Middlesex Township approved its police department’s K-9 program, Jackson Township had the only K-9 program in southern Butler County, serving the southwest communities.
Hutchinson has previous experience in working with K-9 officers from his days in Long Island, N.Y.
“When they (police) wanted to interview me, I was excited,” Hutchinson said. “I was hoping they would pick me. I like to help and do my part.”
“It’s good to find someone who cares that much,” Seilhamer said to Hutchinson Monday after presenting the plaque. “It makes it easier on the department.”