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Third police dog adds to crime-fighting arsenal

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MAX, the Columbus Police Department’s newest canine crime fighter, seized the opportunity to shine his first day on the job.

May 5, Max’s handler, Officer John Searle, brought him to check out a vehicle pulled over near 27th and California streets. The police call was for a suspicious driver possibly wanted for probation violations.

“I was taught to trust my dog during training,” Searle said. “And as soon as I did, Max was like: ‘Here it is, Dad. See what I found?’”


What the canine rookie discovered was a cigarette case hidden in the car’s back seat area that contained crystal meth, police said.

Craig Timothy Smith, 45, Columbus was arrested on a new charge of possession of methamphetamine, police said.

Columbus Board of Works members introduced and honored Max during a meeting May 12 at City Hall.

Searle, a member of the Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving unit, was promoted from patrolman to K-9 officer in December.

A short time later, Max was purchased from a Danish kennel that specializes in providing initial training for police dogs.

In April, Searle and Max grew to know and trust each other while completing a four-week course together at Northern Michigan K-9 Inc., about 100 miles north of Lansing.

“It was a very extensive program,” Searle said. “The training covered everything from building searches and narcotics work to tracking and apprehending individuals.”

But one thing Searle didn’t expect was that since Max was born and trained in Denmark, Searle would be giving all commands to his canine partner in Danish.

Max is special to the Columbus police for an additional reason. His service was made possible through the efforts of Dylan Prather, who will graduate from Columbus North High School this spring.

Prather surprised the community late last summer by raising more than $15,000 to purchase, train and provide ongoing care for Max.

All of it was through Prather’s senior project, which he started before his own senior year began.

About 30 individuals and businesses donated more than $6,000 within a few weeks after Prather began his fundraising efforts July 23.

“It was pretty exciting, pretty cool for the community to pull together for something like this,” Prather said.

In late August, a $9,405 donation from the Custer Foundation made in the memory of animal lover Susan Jane Weaver McGlothlin, who passed away just a few weeks earlier at the age of 48, easily put the North senior over his $15,300 goal.

Prather, who hopes to one day work for the Columbus Police Department, said he understands that it’s necessary for public safety Max perceives Searle as the one giving the commands.

“I still hope they let me come and train with him, like I do with the other two dogs (Rex and Argo),” Prather said.

Prather, 18, will begin a new stage of life later this year as he attends University of Indianapolis studying criminal justice.

Searle said he considers himself one of Prather’s biggest fans.

“The third dog has been an excellent asset to the Columbus Police Department, and Dylan has been absolutely tremendous in making that happen for us,” Searle said. “”I can’t thank Dylan enough, because if it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I would have ever had this tremendous opportunity.”

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