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View Larger Mary Beth Lane | Dispatch photo Steffen Baldwin and Chesty at the Lancaster Police Department, where Baldwin provided dog-behavior training to officers using the pit bull.

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View Slideshow Request to buy this photoMary Beth Lane | Dispatch photo Janice Kobi, president and founder of the animal-welfare organization CARES, presents awards to the Lancaster Police Department for their work in saving dogs. From left: Fairfield County Dog Warden Todd McCullough, Deputy Warden Jeremy Grant, Lancaster Police Officers Trent Temper and Raymond Hambel (with son Andrew) and dog-behavior trainer Steffen Baldwin, chief humane agent in Union County (with his dog Chesty).
By The Columbus Dispatch  •  Thursday September 15, 2016 2:33 PM

LANCASTER — Lancaster Police officers Trent Temper and Raymond Hambel put their dog-behavior training to use on June 6 when they helped to capture two frantic, escaped pit bulls without using deadly force.

For that, they were honored this morning with awards from Fairfield County Citizens for Animal Rights and Ethical Standards. Janice Kobi, president and founder of the volunteer CARES group, also presented awards to Fairfield County Dog Warden Todd McCullough and Deputy Warden Jeremy Grant for their work with the police officers that day in capturing the dogs.

Lancaster Police officers and others in law enforcement in Fairfield County took a training class in February intended to help them find alternatives to lethal force with dogs they encounter. Steffen Baldwin, chief humane agent in Union County and founder of the Animal Cruelty Task Force of Ohio, provided training in how to recognize and calm aggressive or jittery dogs. Tips included not confronting a dog with a direct stare, and offering a treat such as string cheese or beef jerky.

The training came in handy, Temper said, on the day when two pit bulls smashed through their home's glass window and frantically ran loose, one bleeding heavily from cuts. The officers learned their names (Sadie and Lucky) and tried to calm and capture them. They caught Sadie and placed her in a cruiser, and then the dog warden and deputy warden caught up with the injured Lucky, and took the dog in for veterinary care.

"I felt more comfortable, having had the training," Temper said.

Baldwin uses his rescue dog, Chesty, in the training class, which Franklin County and Delaware County probation officers also have taken. Chesty is a pit bull shot by a Dayton police officer in 2013. Baldwin adopted him after the dog recovered from surgery. Baldwin gets Chesty excited by play fighting during the training, and then calms the dog down, showing officers his techniques.

The Lancaster Police Department offered the training after an officer fatally shot a dog last year. "There are some dogs that may have to be shot," Baldwin said. "We want every officer to go home safe to their families."

But many other dogs can be handled safely. As a police officer who owns two rescue dogs himself, Hambel said, "I wouldn't want someone hurting my pet."

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