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New K9, Rex, joins Albion Police Department

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 August 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

ALBION – A new member of the Albion Police Department showed off some of his skills this evening during the National Night Out event at Bullard Park.

Rex, a K9, and his handler, police officer Robert Wagner, graduated from a 14-week K9 police academy on July 24 in Rochester. Wagner and Rex completed the training with the Rochester Police Department.

The dog is certified in tracking, obedience, building searches, area searches and criminal apprehension. In about two to three months, Rex and Wagner will complete a four-week program for narcotics detection.

Wagner and Rex did a demonstration at Bullard Park this evening. Wagner showed some of Rex’s skills with obedience and search.

Rex has a favorite toy, a black rubber ball. He would only chase the tossed ball if Wagner gave him the command.

“He has a high toy drive,” Wagner said.

He practices “PPR” with Rex, giving the K9 plenty of praise, patience and repetition.

Rex retrieves his favorite toy, a black rubber ball.

Wagner joined the Albion Police Department two years ago. He and Rex are the first K9 team for the department in about four years.

“I always liked dogs,” Wagner said. “You couldn’t have a better partner.”

Police Chief Roland Nenni said a K9 is invaluable for the department, helping to locate missing children, suspects and stolen property, while reducing officer hours and their exposure to dangerous situations.

“A K9 is an irreplaceable asset,” Nenni said.

The department bought the dog for $7,500 from a breeder in Pennsylvania. Rex started from near zero with his training when he arrived in Albion. Nenni said Wagner works well with Rex, and has been able to get the dog to follow commands and complete an array of tasks.

Donations from the community and money from a drug forfeiture account through the Orleans County Major Felony Crimes Task Force covered the dog’s purchase.

An Albion police SUV used to transport the K9 was damaged by another driver in Henrietta when Wagner was coming back from training on June 4. Insurance will cover the replacement vehicle which is due to arrive in October. In the meantime, Wagner and Rex are using an existing Albion police SUV.

The National Night Out went on despite rain this evening. Besides Wagner and Rex, Medina Sgt. Todd Draper and Orleans County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Chris Bourke did demonstrations with their K9 partners.

Mercy Flight also flew in with a helicopter and several fire departments and human service agencies were at the event, as well as the Albion Lions Club.