By Elise Franco
Township police said goodbye Tuesday to one of their own.
Conan, the department’s 7 1/2-year-old German shepherd, died Tuesday after battling an aggressive tumor that spread throughout his body, said Chief Bob Gavalier.
The dog joined the department in 2007 and bonded quickly with his handler, officer Justin Coulter, who said Conan was wonderful to work with.
“He was my best friend,” Coulter said. “He was a blast to work with, and we had a lot of success together.”
Between May 2007 and February 2011, Coulter and Conan had 37 felony and 185 misdemeanor arrests and conducted 485 narcotic searches, according to a news release issued Wednesday by Gavalier.
The pair also confiscated several handguns during traffic stops and seized about $61,000 in U.S. currency due to Conan’s ability to detect narcotic odors.
Gavalier said Austintown now has one police dog, Neo, who has been with the department for about six months. He said Conan will be missed by everyone at the department.
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” he said. “Having a K-9 in the past, it’s something that we know can happen.”
Coulter said after handling Conan for nearly four years, he hopes the department will be able to acquire another police dog.
“I was a first-time handler, and I’d really like to be able to continue,” he said.
Gavalier said new police dogs cost about $15,000, and he’s looking into funding to replace their fallen friend. He said if the money isn’t available through the police department’s general fund, they’ll look for ways to raise the funds.
“The passing of [Conan] was unexpected for officer Coulter and the Austintown Police Department,” he said. “No decision has been made at this time whether the department is able to replace this valuable asset to the community.”