Dual purpose canine comes to Hughesville
HUGHESVILLE – Last April the Hughesville community was formally introduced to a new resident by Eric Linhardt, Lycoming County District Attorney. “Bear” is not your ordinary canine friend, but he is a dual purpose canine according to Rod Smith, Police Chief for the Hughesville Police Department.
He is trained to do narcotics searches and to also search for people. “He’s very protective,” said Chief Smith who is Bear’s handler. The dog never leaves his side and he goes wherever Smith goes. “We have become very much attached. There is a bond between us and it is very strong.”
Bear is a three year old long coated Dutch German Shepherd. Originally he came from Germany and was semi-trained in obedience. For the past four months, he has not left Chief Smith’s side. His bloodline is very protective.
Every other week, Bear’s trainer from Muddy River K-9 Academy in Juniata County comes to Lycoming County to train with Bear and another police dog in South Williamsport. Bear is certified in drugs and apprehension, and assisting in burglaries and broken windows. “He is trained to apprehend the suspect,” said Chief Smith. “He gets a lot of physical work.”
Just last month Bear assisted with a narcotics arrest and money seizure. He is trained to sniff packages and any narcotics. “He is police equipment,” added Smith. “He’s not a pet, he’s my partner, more true than anyone else.”
Bear came to Hughesville without the use of taxpayers’ dollars. Chief Smith said he sent letters out to various businesses in the community and received overwhelming support for his arrival. “Everything came from donations. Having a canine unit has proven to be an asset to the community.”
Chief Rod Smith hopes to take Bear out to the schools. He was also taken out to the community when he first arrived to meet business owners and some residents. He has a special compartment made just for him in the back seat of the police vehicle, and he readily rides along with the Chief during his routine calls. “Bear belongs to the entire community, not just the police force’s,” added Smith.
Donors who helped to bring Bear here are Woodlands Bank, American Legion Post 35, Lindauer’s Tavern, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Easy Rider Equestrian Club, Dixie’s Gun Shop, Freezer Auto Parts, Pearson Bike shop, Rick Mahonski Jewelers, and the Hughesville Borough Council. Also private donations came from some of the local citizens and some drug forfeiture money from the county was used to help fund Bear’s presence.
He is still in training and he will also assist with other units as needed.