When Kevin Sloan first applied to join the Moorestown Police Department in 2015, having previously been with the Hammonton Police Department, Sloan said in his initial interview with Chief Lee Lieber that one of his career goals was to work with a K-9.
Fortunately for Sloan, shortly after joining the department, Moorestown resumed its K-9 program after approximately a decade-long halt, bringing in K-9 Chico, originally from the Galloway Police Department.
The resumption of the program was something Sloan, of course, long looked forward to.
“I’d had dogs my whole life and it’s just amazing to see how K-9’s work,” said Sloan. “I like how they’re at work with you and then they’re also a part of your family, there’s no better job than once where you’ve got a dog like this with you.”
But after four years of working together, Chico will now head for a much-needed retirement from the department, says Sloan, and be replaced on the force by K-9 Saltz, who comes to the department via a donation from the Anderson family through the Hometown Foundation.
Chico will continue to live with Sloan and his family in retirement, while also welcoming in Saltz, a 15-month-old canine from the Czech Republic. According to Sloan, Saltz and Sloan will go through training this fall in anticipation of the pair working together in the department later this year when Saltz is fully certified.
The multi-month training class focuses on teaching K-9’s the appropriate commands and procedures needed to make them a certified and reliable K-9 for a police department, while also facilitating bonding between the two. For Sloan, this time around through training will be slightly different than with Chico, due to the difference levels of experience between the K-9’s at the time the department acquired each dog.
“When we acquired Chico, his former handler was retiring early due to an injury and Chico was still young and able to work so he was placed in another [police department], which was fortunately ours,” said Sloan. “It was challenging at first because Chico was already set in his ways and trained for patrol work, so I really had to learn him more than he had to learn me. But this time around it should be the other way around.”
With Chico turning nine years old this September, the department made the decision to seek a new K-9 to replace Chico within the department.
Queue the Hometown Foundation.
“When we started looking, we got an e-mail from David Anderson, a resident of Moorestown, saying that he’d selected us to receive a police K-9,” said Sloan. “When we reached out he’d informed us that he made a charitable donation while down in Florida for the Hometown Foundation and selected us since he lives here… ironically enough we were looking and he selected us without being aware we were looking.
“It all just fell right into place,” added Sloan.
Looking back, Sloan says having community support in such a fashion is beyond important to only show appreciation for what the department does but also do so at no cost to the taxpayers is crucial.
“The initial startup cost of a K-9 unit or the replacement of a dog can be pretty expensive, so often times units rely on donations,” said Sloan. “It’s extremely important to have the support of the chief, the council and also residents as well, otherwise there’s a chance we wouldn’t have a unit in Moorestown at all. Now, there’s even the potential we could expand to a second unit in the future, which would be even more beneficial to our department.”
Looking ahead to getting classes started with Saltz later this fall, Sloan says he’s looking forward to working with a new dog and starting the journey of learning each other while on the job.