Bellefontaine Examiner

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Benno earned trust of officers

His replacement on the way within the week

benno-tribute_914

Three of Benno’s training unit including Bellefontaine’s Toby and handler Officer Scott Stewart, foreground, attended a tribute to the late Belgian Malinois Thursday at Mary Rutan Park. The 8-year-old police dog died late Friday after a brief stomach ailment. Nine handlers from various area agencies and their dogs attended the public ceremony. (EXAMINER PHOTO | JOEL E. MAST)

Law enforcement and the community gathered Thursday to remember police dog Benno even as they learned his replacement will be on its way to the United States within the week.

Bellefontaine Police Chief Brandon Standley organized the public tribute for the 8-year-old Belgian Malinois which died a week ago.

After recounting how he learned to trust Benno’s abilities, the chief announced he was able to authorize the purchase of a new dog.

Noted trainer Dan Bowman will travel this weekend to the Netherlands to pick up several dogs and return with them to begin training the dogs and handlers.

Since Benno’s death, the department has received more than $7,000 in donations to help cover the costs. Officer Chris Marlow will begin the 10-week training regimen Sept. 24.

Chief Standley said he remains committed to maintaining a canine presence in the department. He added the total cost of training and lodging for Officer Marlow will approach nearly $20,000.

He said the community’s response has been tremendous thus far and he believes it will be sufficient to cover the expenses.

Benno is the second dog to die while on active duty since the department restarted canine operations in the mid-1990s. Framed photographs of Benno and Rex, the department’s first Belgian Malinois, will be displayed at the department, the chief said.

He told of an incident early in Benno’s career which taught the then patrol sergeant to trust the dog’s nose.

A distraught man had threatened to harm himself and others, Chief Standley said.

“Basically, he wanted me to shoot him,” he recalled.

Efforts to calm the man failed and he ran from the residence to elude police. More officers, along with deputies of the Logan County Sheriff’s Office and troopers of the Marysville Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, converged on the area as evening sunlight gave way to dark.

They encircled the area and began searching for the suspect passing by a row of hedges that briefly grabbed Benno’s attention.

The search continued without success until Officer Marlow, Benno and the officers returned to the hedge row where the dog had shown interest a half-hour before.

When allowed to work the hedges thoroughly, Benno was able to find the man underneath curled up in a ball.

“It was a great learning experience for me,” Chief Standley said. “I knew then never to doubt Benno again.”

Contributions toward the department’s next dog can be dropped off at the police department. Chief Standley requests the donations in the form of a check be made out to the Bellefontaine Police Department.

The address is 135 N. Detroit St., Bellefontaine, OH 43311.

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