K-9 Officer Receives the Gift of Safety for Christmas

CURWENSVILLE – An old saying suggests that it is better to give than to receive.

A German Shepherd in Curwensville might disagree.

Officer Zeus, the K-9 with Curwensville Borough Police Officer Jim Ward, was the recipient of a brand new piece of safety gear just in time for Chirstmas.

On Thursday, community members gathered to present Zeus with a bullet-proof and stab-proof vest especially made for dogs.

The Mountain Laurel Kennel Club raised $1,177 through a pie sale this fall, a sale that normally raises something in the $400 to $500 range and always benefits something within the community. When word went out that the money would go to Zeus, support came in from all over.

“We had people driving 20-30 miles just to give us checks. … They didn’t even want pies,” said MLKC Incoming Vice President Valerie Swales.

CSB Bank of Curwensville committed to match the $600 goal set by MLKC to purchase Zeus a Kevlar vest. Gary B. Jewart, vice president and director of human resources of CSB Bank, said, “Zeus is a hero.” He added, “It’s a good season to be jolly.”

Thanks to the generosity of those who bought pies and donated, what was supposed to be a standard bullet-proof vest was upgraded to one that could stand up to knives as well.

Zeus comes from what could best be described as police dog royalty with every member of his family either becoming a police dog or training to do do so. Zeus would be honored to stand among his family now, as the “Triple Threat” can detect drugs in addition to being trained to track a suspect and use his mouth to subdue them. Zeus is the only K-9 officer with these certifications in three counties. His closest counterpart is in Altoona.

But that kind of expertise does not come cheap. Ward has spent more than $5,000 of his own money on Zeus’s training, and Curwensville Borough’s furriest officer receives no tax dollars for his keep.

That, according to MLKC activities director Nancy Myrter, is something to be commended.

“It’s not every person who’s a dog person, and it’s not every officer who’s a dog officer.”

At home, Ward said Zeus enjoys playing with the cat of the house and the family’s other dog.

“The other dog barks at Zeus because he thinks he’s being a little rough with the cat.”

There’s still one task, though, that Zeus has not been able to do.

After the MLKC pie sale, a 3- or 4-year-old girl went to the police station to give $8 to Zeus. The money, she said, was saved for the dog instead of buying a movie. Ward said he once had the little girl’s name but lost it. Now, he is again asking the community to identify the girl and provide Zeus with her address.

“Zeus did get her something,” Ward said. Zeus was decidedly tight-lipped about his special thank-you present.

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