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County creates Bullet care account

“IDA: Individual Dog Account’
A care fund is being created for Bullet, who is a retired K-9 officer and lives with his former handler, Sgt. Harry Calithen. Bullet, shown in his early days working in the sheriff 's office in 2012, retired in March. Butler Eagle file photo

Butler County Sheriff Mike Slupe looks to make sure Bullet, the K-9 officer who served with the county’s law-enforcement arm for nearly a decade, doesn’t have a “ruff” retirement.

The sheriff on Wednesday asked the county government to establish a retired canine care donation account, which Slupe said would allow the office to pay for Bullet’s medical expenses in the future without taxpayer dollars.

Bullet retired in March and lives with his former handler, Sgt. Harry Callithen.

Slupe said the idea came from a conversation he had with a Westmoreland County probation officer who received a retired Ohio Highway Patrol K-9 officer.

“He said, basically, he doesn’t have to pay for food or medical care — really, anything for the retired K-9 — because it’s all taken care of,” Slupe said. “I thought, wow, I mean, we only have one and I thought I can raise money — non-taxpayer-related — for medical visits and procedures that Bullet would need now and in the future.”

County commissioners unanimously approved the creation of the account, which Slupe said would increase the transparency of where the funds come from and how they are expended.

Commissioner Kevin Boozel said he’s heard of similar programs in the military, with his son receiving a retired military dog with sponsoring groups paying for medical bills.

“This is not unusual, but I think it’s unusual, to me, to have the sheriff’s department do it,” he said. “It’s out of the box, a little bit.”

Leslie Osche, commissioners chairwoman, joked the account would be similar to a human retirement plan, calling it an “IDA: Individual dog account.”

911 call routing

In emergency services, commissioners on Wednesday also approved two contracts related to how 911 calls are routed in Butler County.

The contracts, both with Lumen, will integrate the county’s emergency call service with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency’s next-generation 911 plan. Butler County will pay nearly $66,000 for the two contracts, but emergency services director Steve Bicehouse said the state will reimburse Butler for the expense.

Through the new system, according to Bicehouse, Pennsylvania will take over how calls are routed through 911. Currently, Butler County’s 911 calls are routed through Chambersburg and Carlisle, but under the new system one router will be in eastern Pennsylvania and another in Boyers.