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Police Dogs Offer Hope After Tragedy

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From left, Johnstown Police Officer Brian Stevens and Ripp; Gary Bigam, warehouse manager, Eastern Elevator; Capt. Mike Plunkard and therapy dog Archie; interim police Chief Chad Miller; and Craig Cicon, field operations director, Eastern Elevator. (Johnstown Police Department)

Two new additions to a police department in Pennsylvania are brightening spirits after tragedy, according to a recent news story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Ripp, an 18-month-old Belgian Malinois, and Archie, a 12-month-old French Mastiff, are the new police dogs at the Johnstown Police Department. 

Ripp is the replacement for Titan, a police dog who died last November during a building search. Titan and his partner of six years, Officer Brian Stevens, were on the fourth floor, which had no electricity and was pitch-black. Titan ran into what he thought was the next room, but it turned out to be an empty elevator shaft, and the dog fell 80 ft. to his death. “It was a terrible tragedy, but Titan probably saved a life,” Stevens said. “An officer could have fallen into the shaft.” Thousands turned out to a memorial service and, upon hearing the news, Eastern Elevator, an American Elevator Group company located near Johnstown, sent a $10,000 donation. 

Archie has been named the department’s first “comfort dog” – and he seems to be doing his job perfectly. Archie visits all the departments, and at just 25 pounds, he is hard to resist and has helped boost morale for the entire department. “In just two and a half weeks, I have seen a change in the department,” says Captain Mike Plunkard. “Officers say they look forward to morning roll call because Archie is there.”

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