Sheriff's office introduces new K-9 officers

Becky Vargo • Jul 26, 2017 at 10:58 AM

WEST OLIVE — Kyan and Pappy were introduced Wednesday morning as the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office’s newest K-9 officers.

Kyan, 12 months, joins veteran K-9 handler Jeremy Osbun, whose former partner, Zino, was retired two weeks ago. Kyan is a Malinois from Poland.

Pappy, 22 months, joins new K-9 handler Anthony Stariha. Pappy, from the Netherlands, is also a Malinois.

Both teams are on active duty, joining the Sheriff’s Office’s other K-9 teams — Mark Busse and Andy, as well as Mike Williams with Blitz.

Joanne and Lanny Hassell of Hudsonville donated $8,000 so that their friend, Osbun, could get a new K-9 partner. Joanne said they did this “because it does so much good for the community.”

The Holland Kennel Club donated $11,500 for Stariha and Pappy. Club representative Mike Winkler said the organization has been funding dogs for the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office for 20 years. They’ve recently started donating money for K-9 officers to the Allegan County Sheriff’s Department, as well.

Stariha joined the Sheriff’s Office in 2014 following a three-year stint as an Alaskan state trooper. He said he has been interested in being a handler since his first days on the job in Alaska.

“When I first started training in Alaska, we did a 2-mile trek” with the dogs, Stariha said. “It’s been a passion ever since that day.”

Stariha said it has to be a passion because you are also working with the dog at home.

“It’s 24/7,” he said.

Stariha said all of the Alaska State Police K-9 units were named in honor of someone who had died in the line of duty, so he asked if he could do the same with his dog. Pappy was named in honor of the late Arlan “Pappy” Gort, an Ottawa County Sheriff’s deputy who was killed in 1989 while directing traffic at a crash on Baldwin Street.

Gort’s widow, Eva Smith, and many other family members attended Wednesday’s event at the county’s Fillmore Street Complex in West Olive.

“It’s nice that they did this,” Smith said. “The guys were a big part of his life. He loved them.”

Although Gort ran a real estate office and was a builder, Smith said her late husband’s real love was the Sheriff’s Office.

“He was captain for the mounted division for 23 years,” she said.

K-9 officers are used for narcotics detection, tracking, drug detection and locating lost people, Undersheriff Val Weiss said.

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office has a K-9 team for each shift, including days and nights.

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