YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Youngstown State University is now home to a bomb-sniffing canine unit.
The Ohio Department of Homeland Security paid for the dog, its training and veterinary care. Police officials said the dog, Gino, and officer Mark Mehley will help keep the university and surrounding areas safe from acts of terrorism.
“Whether it be Boardman or Austintown or North Jackson or Sebring, if they need assistance from Gino or any one of us, we’re going to respond to them just like they would come here to help us,” said YSU Police Chief John Beshara.”This is not only for Youngstown State, but also for the city of Youngstown and the region. The idea is you are going to prevent something bad from happening.”
Mehley said he and Gino will perform a lot of sweeps at different venues, such as a marathon, a 5-K run, presidential elections and football games.
“Anything that you might have a thought that someone might want to harm people,” Mehley said.
“The preventative measures that a K-9 like Gino can perform are really life-saving. And you’re not just saving one or two lives but with an explosive material, a large number of people are at risk,” said John Born, Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
The dog and his handler are now ready for active service. In addition to regular patrols, they also will respond to emergency situations and participate in monthly training exercises.
YSU is the first university in Ohio to take part in the state program. Other dogs were announced at Bowling Green and the Ohio State University.
Born said the Ohio Department of Homeland Security wants to have a bomb-sniffing dog at every one of Ohio’s 14 state universities.
State officials said each dog costs about $13,000 to train, but it is a small price to pay for safety.