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4 legged member of the Watsontown Police Division has final day of service | Information

Watsontown, Pa.—On Jan. 9, a valued member of the Watsontown Police Division gave her last day of service—on 4 legs!

Canine Mariska bravely served as a part of the canine unit of the Watsontown Police Division since 2019. Her handler was Sergeant Timothy A. Kiefaber.

Mariska is a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois. Based on the American Kennel Membership, this breed is “good, assured, and versatile” and a “world-class employee who forges an unbreakable bond along with his human companion.”

Mariska was acquired via Shallow Creek Kennels of Sharpsville, Pa., which provides police and army working canine all through america. She was bought nearly completely by donations from the general public and fundraising.

The rising drug epidemic in Northumberland County, in addition to the state and nation, was what initiated this narcotics detection canine program. (In 2017, the world had a really excessive per capita overdose dying charge from opioids in comparison with comparable sized areas across the nation, in line with Watsontown Police.)

The purpose of this system was to assist curb opioid-related overdose deaths in our communities.

“The felony justice system isn’t any place to deal with the illness of dependancy. However for some, an arrest might present simply the window wanted to start therapy and have an opportunity at life,” Kiefaber mentioned.

Watsontown Police Division had by no means had a canine within the division’s historical past. In 2018, Watsontown Borough officers permitted the canine program.

Sergeant Kiefaber took Mariska to nearly each faculty district in Northumberland County and different faculties in Lycoming, Union, Montour, and Snyder Counties. He spoke about how this system labored and why it was vital.

Kiefaber established a 501c3 non-profit group known as the Police K9 Mission as a method to settle for financial donations to fund the division’s new endeavor.

“To my data,” he mentioned, “there have been lower than 5 canine models inside Northumberland County inside the final 30 years, together with Canine Mariska.”

In Dec. 2018, Kiefaber attended a four-week canine coaching academy at Shallow Creek Kennels with Canine Mariska. They graduated in January of 2019 via NAPWDA, the North American Police Working Canine Affiliation, as a licensed canine group. They maintained this certification via month-to-month trainings and an annual certification.

Along with financial donations to the Police K9 Mission, the group as a complete made different contributions. A 2019 Dodge Durango Police Car was donated by Moran Industries of Watsontown. The Susquehanna Path Animal Hospital of Watsontown, together with the Animal Emergency Heart, pledged free veterinary look after the lifetime of this system. Dr. Wilhelm and his spouse Dr. Mildrew, the house owners of the Susquehanna Path Animal Hospital of Watsontown, additionally secured meals for Mariska at no cost for the lifetime of this system via their Purina consultant.

“With vet care and meals being the largest perpetual prices related to a police canine program, they had been capable of assist us save an estimated quantity of near $10,000,” Kiefaber mentioned.

Native companies additionally helped make this program attainable. Sizeable donations got here from Evangelical Neighborhood Hospital, Sunbury Motors, Geisinger Medical Heart, Lowe’s, Walmart, native civic organizations, and most significantly, people kind the group.

As a single-purpose narcotics detection canine, Mariska was licensed to detect 4 various kinds of narcotics together with heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana (which on the time of her coaching, medical marijuana in leaf kind was not but legalized in PA.)

In her profession, Mariska was concerned in 77 responsibility deployments. She was liable for serving to to grab the next:

  • marijuana – 7.25 lbs.
  • cocaine – 53 g
  • heroin-7g
  • methamphetamine – 54g
  • narcotic drugs – 360
  • fentanyl-10g
  • artificial hallucinogen – 10 g

She additionally had a hand in 58 felony arrests, 5 unlawful firearms and a considerable amount of drug paraphernalia. This totaled a road worth of $19,750 and an extra $36,250 in drug cash.


Sergeant Kiefaber with Canine Mariska. They accomplished 1,120 coaching hours collectively to stay a licensed canine group.

Moreover, Mariska made appearances at 28 public demonstrations for faculties, civic teams, and church buildings.

Kiefaber mentioned, “Your entire program was price roughly $150,000, none of which had been tax {dollars}. In a program like this, the preliminary buy of Mariska and her coaching had been roughly $15,000. That’s earlier than automobiles, gear, meals, coaching provides, or anything wanted to make this program work. A canine program that’s profitable {and professional} is a critical expense however can return dividends within the high quality of life to a group.”

The standard timeframe for a police service canine is 4 to seven years. Kiefaber and Mariska had been of their fifth 12 months of service collectively; Nonetheless, Kiefaber mentioned, “modifications to medical marijuana regulation in our state, coupled with the variety of canine models being established by different police departments since our division started our program, prompted a lower in deployments for Mariska.”

In Lycoming County, South Williamsport simply introduced that they’re re-establishing their canine program which was stopped in 2018. Kiefaber does not suppose the Watsontown Police Division will likely be having one other canine program within the close to future.

Kiefaber added that, with the assist of Chief Snyder and the native and county officers, it appeared like the correct time for Mariska to retire.

Kiefaber is grateful to the general public officers of Watsontown Borough and Northumberland County who had the foresight to see the potential of the canine program. He mentioned he is additionally grateful to all of the people and companies that supported this program since they started fundraising in 2018.

“The quantity of assist we obtained was nothing wanting exceptional,” Kiefaber mentioned.

Working with Mariska was an expertise that taught him belief, teamwork, and love. He’s grateful for this chance of serving not solely Watsontown Borough, however the surrounding space via our county’s drug process drive.

“You afforded me the chance to serve in a method few law enforcement officials get to,” he mentioned.

Kiefaber mentioned that every one the remaining donated cash, which at this level is lower than $1,000, by regulation will likely be donated to different non-profits such because the native Warrior Run Little League, Transitions of PA, and Central PA Meals Financial institution.

Canine Mariska will now benefit from the quiet lifetime of retirement and proceed to stay with Kiefaber. Kiefaber will proceed to offer her with the love and care becoming for not solely a retired police canine, however now, a member of her household.

Based on Kiefaber, “Canine Mariska goes to get pleasure from her retirement with loads of toys and milk bones.”

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