County sheriff’s department to get K-9 donation

PITTSBURGH — Officials with the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation’s Giving Back Fund have announced the distribution of more than $82,000 in funding to police and fire departments in the Pittsburgh area, including the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said the department will purchase a multipurpose dog that will be able to detect drugs on a person or in a vehicle and track and chase suspects who flee.

It will be the first K-9 serving with the sheriff’s department in more than a decade.

A deputy will be assigned the K-9 duties, Abdalla noted.

The K-9 will be purchased through the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the dog and deputy will undergo extensive training, said sheriff’s department Sgt. Chris Vinci, who is a former dog handler assigned to the county drug task force. The sheriff’s department will have to purchase a cruiser equipped with a dog cage in the rear seat, he added.

“There is not enough thanks to say,” Abdalla said about the $10,000 donation from the foundation. “It says a lot about the organization and Ben Roethlisberger. It says they support law enforcement and the fight against the drug problem.”

“We will use the funds provided to us by this grant to purchase a K-9 to support local law enforcement and better serve the citizens of our county,” Vinci said. “I am a former K-9 handler and I know this is a much-needed, valuable asset for our department to help fight the drug epidemic in this valley, as well as have a tool to be utilized to track missing persons and also to track and apprehend criminals.”

Th grant announcement completes the foundation’s 11th grant cycle, during which it distributed 23 grants totaling more than $170,000 to K-9 units around the country. In addition to the Pittsburgh grants announced, the foundation distributed grants to K-9 units of police departments in the cities and surrounding communities of each regular season away game for the Steelers. The foundation invited police and fire departments across the country to submit proposals detailing their needs.

The foundation said its mission is to support K-9 units of police and fire departments throughout the United States, with a particular emphasis on support for service dogs in Pittsburgh. Roethlisberger and the foundation also support Make-A-Wish. The foundation has distributed more than $1.9 million since 2007.

Also receiving grants were: Sharpsburg Borough Police Department, Beaver Township Police Department, Edinboro Borough Police Department, City of McKeesport Police Department, Lower Burrell Police Department, Eureka Fire Rescue EMS, Ohio Township Police Department and Hopewell Township Police Department.

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