German shepherd puppy Chase is now officially a K-9 officer with the Cleveland Metroparks Ranger Division. The newest, and furriest, member of the K-9 unit was sworn in this morning during the Board of Park Commissioners meeting and then introduced to media and a group of excited fifth graders from Valley View Elementary School in Cleveland during a program at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
The puppy’s handler, Ranger Will Collins, introduced 12-week-old, 25 pound Chase to the students and explained how he and Chase will be partners for life.
“As Chase and I begin training and working together, it’s very important that we form a strong bond and learn to understand each other,” said Collins. “Because he will be with me for the rest of his life, even after he retires from active duty.”
Chase, who was born on November 2, 2014, has already started his training, but the Rangers are careful not to rush it. The amount of time it takes for a dog to be certified in the field depends on a number of factors and varies from dog to dog. Ranger dogs begin with narcotics detection training, before moving on to apprehension and building search training all of which can take about a year.
Collins and Chase were joined during the program by the other members of the Ranger’s K-9 unit, Sgt. Tim Garris and Logan, Ranger Mike Kort and Gambit, and Ranger Mike Barr and Rico. After Chase was introduced, Garris and Logan performed a narcotics search demonstration and then the students were allowed to come up and meet the dogs in person.
Chase comes from a long line of police dogs, courtesy of police dog trainer Tom Schmidt, founder of Buckeye Area Regional K-9 Training Unit, or BARK for short. Chase is one of Rico’s brothers, and is the grandson of retired Ranger K-9 officer Radar. Collins, who previously served as a Lorain County Metro Parks Ranger, is also an experienced dog trainer having raised and trained several Labrador retrievers for competitive events such as upland dog trials.
Cleveland Metroparks Ranger Division has a long history of dedication to the Park District and Northeast Ohio. Since its founding in 1920 as the Cleveland Metropolitan Park District Police Department and the hiring of its first officer in 1921, the Rangers have protected generations of park visitors.
For more information, visit clevelandmetroparks.com.