March 18. 2013 8:19PM

Nashua police aim to add two dogs

Union Leader Correspondent

NASHUA - The city's police department is hoping to purchase two police dogs for its canine unit and will be seeking approval this week from elected officials.

"At this time, we are ready to bring on two canines and two handlers to replace vacant positions," Police Chief John Seusing said in a written request to the city.

Seusing is asking that $13,000 in drug forfeiture funds be used to purchase a German shepherd and a Belgian Malinois.

The aldermanic Finance Committee will review the chief's request on Wednesday.

Sgt. John Harvey of the Nashua Police Department led the search to find the two new working dogs, which are expected to join the Nashua Police Department's Canine Unit that was established in 1996.

Harvey has visited with the two new police dogs, testing and evaluating them with their future handlers from the police department.

"It was important to find dogs that were not only the right temperament and match to the officer, but also the officer must have the right personality and style to match the selected canine to train and work together effectively," said Seusing.

There are currently two police dogs on the city's force, including Ginger, a bloodhound tracking dog, and Mautz, a German shepherd patrol and narcotics dog, Deputy Chief Scott Howe said.

The dogs are handled by officers Jeff Connors and Robert Dunn.

Most of the expenses for the police canine unit are paid with drug forfeiture money, although additional costs are defrayed by local businesses though donations of supplies.

"At one point we had four or five dogs, but now we are down to two," said Howe. "We are hoping to get the number back up to four, and eventually have six dogs on the unit."

The dogs are a tremendous asset to the Nashua Police Department, Howe said. They are used to track criminals from crime scenes, search for lost individuals, apprehend fleeing suspects and more, he said.

Dogs from the city's police department were used in drug searches at North and South high schools last fall, and they are also utilized in various community policing initiatives.

According to police officials, the new dogs and their handlers will be trained by Troy Casey of the Boston Police Department, who has been training the city's canine unit for many years. The dogs will be enrolled in a Police Canine Academy, according to the proposed purchase agreements with TBLACKK9 of Middleboro, Mass.

Arex, a male German shepherd, and Tango, a male Belgian Malinois, are each being sold for $6,500, according to the agreements. If the dogs cannot be certified as police canines, the seller will replace them with other dogs or issue a full refund.

"This is a big commitment for our handlers," said Howe, explaining the dogs are sent home with the assigned officers and become a part of their family.

Still, he said city officers are often eager to take on the dog handling responsibilities associated with the canine unit.

Wednesday's aldermanic Finance Committee meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Nashua City Hall, where the proposed purchase of the two canines will be discussed.