Mantua K-9 unit visits township schools

Courtesy of J. Mason Tomlin Elementary School
Officers Stephen Wolfsgruber (left) and Cody Mroz introduced students to their K-9 partner in crime fighting, Tyson.

The Sewell and J. Mason Tomlin elementary schools got visits from a Mantua police K-9 unit on March 22 to mark the schools’ Coins for Canines drive.

Officers Cody Mroz and Stephen Wolfsgruber arrived with Tyson, a 2-year-old German shepard, as the schools came to the end of the annual coin collection drive that benefits the unit.

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“Mantua Township school students have been collecting coins as a donation for the … K-9 Unit,” said Tomlin Principal Christine Connelly. “This visit was a culmination of the fundraiser and a way for the students to see where their donations were going.

“The officers walked the dog around the lunchroom during each lunch period, allowing students to pet the dog and ask the officers any questions they may have had.”

At Sewell, Tyson and his handlers visited classrooms and posed for pictures with students.

Connelly described her school’s students as “engaged and overly excited” about the visit.

“I think the visit was really important, because again, it was a visual representation of what the coins the students had been collecting would be used for,” she explained. “Any chance we have to support members of our community is a valuable opportunity for the students to learn what it means to give back.”

Tyson is new to the police department, having completed training with Wolfsgruber at the Police K-9 Academy in Atlantic County at the end of last year.

Unlike the main police department – which is funded by taxpayer dollars – the K-9 unit is funded primarily through donations and fundraising from outside sources in the township and in Wenonah, which is also served by the Mantua force. The funds pay for animal care that includes food and proper training for the pooch’s handler.

Connelly will be happy to host the K-9 visit again.

“We would love to continue this tradition in the future,” she noted, “and maybe even extend the visit next time to include some more demonstrations or show the students how K-9 Tyson helps our community.”

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