Dogs are man’s best friend. That’s especially true in the Solon Police Department. Many of our members have taken in wayward pets as rescues. Over the years, a few officers have taken home a more interesting companion. An eighty to ninety pound eating and shedding machine known as a police K9.
After a thorough selection process, Ptl. Joe Randazzo was chosen to be the Solon Police Department’s K-9 handler. A total of four officers expressed an interest in the position. While officers were subjected to an interview, Solon Police Department’s new mascot, Mack, was being selected from some of the best working dogs in or area.
Last December, K9 Stryker retired after nine years of service to the City of Solon. That’s a long career for a police dog. His long career can be attributed to a little bit of luck and a lot of time, commitment and dedication from an officer. Ptl. Matt Troyer continues to be Stryker’s handler in retirement. Ptl. Troyer still patrols Solon, now without his partner. Stryker’s retirement opened up an opportunity for Joe and Mack to enter the picture.
Patrolman Randazzo completed six weeks of handler training at Shallow Creek Kennels with Mack. Mack actually received more training than that, before the two ever met. Each day consisted of long hours of training on their feet. Together they learned obedience and job specific training. Mack is considered a dual-purpose police dog, trained in both drug detection and general patrol work. Mack can find illegal drugs, track down at-large suspects, search buildings, and complete a wide variety of other tasks related to Mack’s keen sense of smell and strong drive to work. They started patrolling in May.
Mack is a German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois cross. He was born in Hungary and spent time training in Europe, where breeding and training standards are considered top notch.
Many people wonder where the dog goes when he’s not at work. Does he roam the station? Does he stay in the Police Kennel? Solon police dogs live in the handler’s home during their off hours. This means the officer never really stops taking care of the animal. The responsibilities include everything a regular pet would need, plus continuous training, exercise and family acclimation. The handler truly must care for his partner. It is a lot of responsibility. Mack is a high performing, strong animal. Caution must be exercised with family and visitors in the home. Family support and buy-in is required.
When you meet Mack you’ll be surprised what he’s capable of. He is a well-adjusted and social dog, but his training and care is ongoing. Things like bullet proof vests, and protection for the handler (like a training bite suit) can be expensive. The Police Department does accept donations for the program.
Although Mack has yet to “save the day”, he is prepared to. The one thing he consistently does, is save the spirits of the officers he interacts with every day. He’s a morale booster. More importantly, Mack helps to bridge the gap between the Solon Police Department and the citizens we serve.
Questions about Mack can be directed to Ptl Randazzo though email firstname.lastname@example.org The K9 program is administered by Lt. Bill Vajdich (email@example.com) .