Barnesville Police Department’s newest member came all the way from the Czech Republic. Dixie, a 15-month-old German Shepherd and her handler, officer Ben Neuhardt, were recently certified as the department’s first K-9 unit.  Dixie is also one of the only female K-9s in Belmont County. Last week, officer Neuhardt and Dixie stopped in at downtown Barnesville businesses to introduce themselves and give Dixie a chance to “sniff around”.
Officer Neuhardt and Dixie have been in training since she arrived on May 30. She is now certified as a dual-purpose dog, having the ability to sniff out drugs, track, do article and area searches and take down suspects. Her commands are given in German, so that the average person couldn’t give commands, however, Dixie and Neuhardt are so close that she probably wouldn’t obey anyone else. Barnesville Police Chief David Norris said he chose Neuhardt, who has been an officer for four years, to be Dixie’s handler after seeing him with his own German Shepherd. Chief Norris said the Barnesville native was a natural choice and has the right temperament for handling the dog. Neuhardt previously served on the Woodsfield Police Department.
Norris said the K-9 Unit is long overdue and will be a benefit to the department and the community. Neuhardt said eventually Dixie will be introduced to students at Barnesville schools. Neuhardt said Dixie has been well-received so far.
The K-9 unit will be funded by the village, drug seizure proceeds and donations. The department was started with the help of donations from Hess Oil, Chestnut Lanes bowling alley, and Bostic and Son Concrete, who poured the pad for Dixie’s kennel. The Chestnut Lanes donation came from a fund raiser by the Barnesville Bowling Association. Another fund raiser is planned for the fall. Chestnut Lanes owner A.J. Corder said another fund raiser for the K-9 Unit will be held at the bowling alley on August 30. More details on the benefit cookout will be printed in upcoming issues of The Enterprise.
Corder encourages other businesses to donate as well. “This is a good thing,” Corder said.
Donations are appreciated and will be used for Dixie’s equipment, veterinarian bills, food, etc.