Ben Roethlisberger Foundation grants $55K to K-9 programs

By Rick Wills
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

PITTSBURGH — The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund awarded six grants to Pittsburgh-area police K-9 programs totaling $55,000.

Departments will use the grants to start K-9 units, upgrade vehicles and replace dogs that are ready to retire, according to the foundation.

"This award will assist us in implementing a K-9 program in our township. This program will be a major step in enhancing the police department's crime-fighting capabilities and increasing the quality of life for our citizens," North Strabane police Chief Brian D. Hughes said.

It is the foundation's eighth year of K-9 grants. The group has distributed $132,000 in grants throughout the country.

In addition to local grants, the foundation donates money to police and fire departments in cities where the Steelers play away games.

"We're very fortunate to be in the position ... to help these K-9 units. The work that is performed by the dogs and their handlers as well as the bond that is formed is incredible," Roethlisberger said in a statement.

The grants are useful, said Lt. Anthony Lagese of New Castle police, which will put its $10,000 grant toward purchase of a K-9 vehicle.

"Some of our vehicles were up there in years," said Lagese, who added that the department uses K-9 units to conduct searches for drugs, missing people and bomb materials.

In 2011, New Castle suspended and fined Officer James C. Hoyland for leaving a police dog unattended in a cruiser parked outside the police station on an 88-degree day. The dog died.

Since then, Hoyland has not been allowed to handle police dogs, Lagese said.

Copyright 2015 The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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