By Elise Franco
When Patrolman Aaron Franks is on duty he knows his partner will have his back.
In just a few weeks Franks’ new partner Cairo, a two-year-old German Shepherd, will finish up their training at Shallow Creek Kennel in Sharpsville, Pa., and Cairo will join the Austintown force as the department’s second police dog.
The pair began its six-week training regimen at the beginning of April and Franks said in that time Cairo is expected to become an expert in tasks like tracking, obedience and narcotic work.
John Brannon, owner of Shallow Creek, said about 250 police and military dogs are trained at the facility each year, and they come from all over the country.
Brannon said the dogs are chosen for police and military work using a series of tests.
“They go through a series of very selective tests and medical evaluations,” he said. “They’re tested for things like courage, confidence and clarity.”
Cario was paid for through donations from private citizens and businesses and cost $12,750.
“The K-9s are important to have because they’re another tool the officers can use to help do their jobs,” Police Chief Robert Gavalier said. “They help with vehicle and building searches, tracking, drugs and crowd control.”
Franks said becoming a handler for the first time was an easy decision to make.
“Wouldn’t you want something like that in your back seat?” He said. “It’s the best partner in the world.”
Cairo will replace Conan, the department’s seven-and-a-half year old German Shepherd that died of cancer in April 2011.
Gavalier said it was important for the department to be able to purchase a new dog after Conan died.
“We currently have one dog, Neo, that works steady midnights, so we wanted to have one working afternoons,” he said. “If a K-9 is needed a handler will always be ready.”