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Luca, a dog from the sheriff's K-9 unit, is on the mend; deputy handler is from Middletown

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 7/18/18

While most people can leave their coworkers at the end of the workday, Dauphin County Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Long has been spending time taking his partner, Luca, to doctor’s appointments …

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Luca, a dog from the sheriff's K-9 unit, is on the mend; deputy handler is from Middletown

Posted

While most people can leave their coworkers at the end of the workday, Dauphin County Sheriff’s Deputy Josh Long has been spending time taking his partner, Luca, to doctor’s appointments and physical therapy.

Luca is a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois and has been the Middletown native’s partner in the K-9 unit for more than two years.

Luca fell about 35 feet from the side of a parking garage in Lancaster while on duty in late June. Ever since, Long has been nursing the dog back to health.

It’s been very difficult, Long said. Both of them like having a routine, and Luca’s injury has changed their routine. Work dogs, Long said, like working, and Luca gets antsy while lying around.

Long hasn’t returned to work yet without Luca.

“Right now, my primary job is getting him healthy enough to go back to work,” Long said.

According to Mike Klinger, senior K-9 handler, the sheriff’s office was requested to assist Lancaster police with the Pride Festival on June 24. Luca was working a parking garage, and for some reason, he fell off the wall of the third story of the parking garage.

Klinger said Lancaster officers arranged for vet services, if the sheriff’s office needed it. On Facebook, Dauphin County Sheriff Nick Chimienti Jr. wrote that Luca sustained severe sprains to both legs and a dislocated paw and severe swelling in the other.

“I thank the good lord. Yeah, it could have been a lot worse. We’ve seen canines with less of a height fall not survive,” Klinger said.

Since it was a soft tissue injury, Klinger said they’ve been playing the “wait-and-see game” for treatment. On July 6, the vet removed splints from Luca’s legs. Long said on July 9, they went to a specialist. Luca will start physical therapy.

Luca is one of two dogs on the K-9 unit. Both are associated with the Pennsylvania Terrorism Taskforce. Luca’s main job with the department is explosive detection and tracking.

Even though Luca isn’t Klinger’s partner, he said it’s been tough because they count on the dogs every day.

“Our canines — it’s a game to them. It’s fun. Every day that we get up, they know that we’re going to work and that’s what they look forward to doing,” Klinger said.

He said he anticipated Luca returning to the field by the end of July or early August.

Since Luca was injured, Klinger said they’ve received donations, toys and care packages for Luca.

The support is appreciated, Long said.

“Luca and I look forward to going back to work and keeping the residents of Middletown and Dauphin County safe,” Long said.