By David Highfield

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PLUM (KDKA) — Some people who live in Plum are urging borough council to keep its police dog despite a vote to end the program, and Monday night, those in favor of the K-9 got a glimmer of good news.

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Plum K-9 Officer Voda will retire at the end of the year, but many of the people at Monday night’s meeting wanted the K-9 Officer program to continue with a new dog, something the council voted against earlier this summer.

“My son is growing up in this community. I bought a house in this community because I knew it was a safe community,” resident Bill O’Leary said. “Now they’re talking about getting rid of the dog. That dog does more than just canine work. I mean he found a small child the other day, a runaway.”

But Voda was trained to specialize in fighting drugs, which why this hits so close to home with Sarah Steele. She lost her youngest son to drugs.

“One thing that happened that shocked me was how many young mothers I met in the Plum Cemetery that were there for the same reason I was,” Steele said.

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The group in favor of keeping the K-9 program passed fliers and have started a petition. Council voted 7-0 a few months ago to end it, in part because of cost.

“Everybody up here loves dogs,” Council President Mike Doyle said. “This has nothing to do with not liking animals.”

Doyle told the crowd there might still be hope and that the borough manager will look into ways to possibly keep the dog officers.

“I’m not sitting here making any promises that we’re going to keep this program going,” he said, “but we’re open-minded, and we’re going to look into all the kinds of options.”

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Some members of the community feel so strongly about the issue that they’re willing to volunteer to pay for the cost of a new dog.

David Highfield