The newest member of the Lancaster County Drug Task Force was officially sworn in this week at the county courthouse.
It took a bag of chopped hot dogs to convince “Bear” – a 2½-year-old chocolate Lab – to commit his paw to the oath sheet.
Bear has been with the Task Force, under handler Detective Anthony Lombardo, since the beginning of the month, going on his first search details in recent days.
Bear is the first full-time K9 the Task Force has had in about 20 years. He will live with Lombardo, who, with a commitment from his home Manheim Township Police Department, will be part of the Task Force for another decade or so.
The Task Force works under Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman, who said law-enforcement needs all the tools available to them in the midst of the opioid epidemic.
“Bringing Bear onto the Task Force really was a no-brainer,” District Attorney Stedman said Thursday. “This county, and country, is dealing with a drug epidemic unlike anything I have seen in my 26 years as a prosecutor.”
Bear was trained for three months in North Carolina to detect several types of controlled substances, including heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana.
He recently went along for a search in Landisville that uncovered 180 pounds of marijuana.
When he detects or “hits” and a substance, he stops and stares. The detectives take it from there.
Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker officially swore in Bear in his courtroom Tuesday afternoon. Which some enticing by Detective Lombardo, Bear cooperated.
Harrisburg Pike Animal Hospital donated services, procedures, and medicine for Bear. Dr. Jeff Pendleton was the treating vet.
There will be recurring costs for Bear, including his ongoing training which costs about $1,000 a year, along with food and shelter costs. Detective Lombardo is also planning to purchase a vest for Bear which will identify him as a police dog.
Anyone willing to contribute to Bear’s care and costs can send donations to the Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office, c/o Joanna Evans, 50 North Duke Street, Lancaster, Pa. 17602.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brett A. Hambright, 717-295-2041; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @BrettHambright