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Paw-tect and serve

Carly Busfield
Officer Elijah Middaugh with K9, Rush.

In today’s world, it is routine for the Bloomsburg Police Department to conduct a sweep for any explosives before large events like graduation ceremonies. The BUPD has taken the initiative to source funding for a trained explosive detection dog (K9 Unit) as a critical asset to preventing threats of violence towards the Bloomsburg campus community.

Rush, the one-year-old Belgian Malinois, began his training about six to nine months ago. “The university does bomb sweeps for events. So, why not do it ourselves?” said Officer Elijah Middaugh, the K9’s handler. Police Explosive Detection K9 Units are specialized teams comprised of highly trained dogs and their handlers; it is a team effort and a special bond.

The BUPD is asking for financial support from the university community to meet the $30,000 cost to bring this important capability to the Bloomsburg campus.


Officer Middaugh and Rush are participating in a 26-week-long training patrol and explosives training at the Atlantic County Canine Academy, known as the John “Sonny” Burke Police K-9 Academy. Class sizes vary but there is a chance that Rush is the only canine training for explosives while the others for narcotics.

The duo are starting off with one to two days of early training, which they will continue for three days a week at the end of the month. They will also be receiving training in tracking lost persons and suspects, making it a valuable asset to the general area.

What are the current focuses of training? “Right now, obedience and exercise. He has to run all the time,” emphasized Middaugh.

These K9 units are deployed at pre-event security sweeps, suspicious packages investigations, bomb threat response, and overall tracking.

A “paws-itive” impact on campus

Officer Middaugh plans to establish a strong relationship between Rush and the rest of campus. The community is welcome to donate food and other accessories for the canine and, of course, to say hello when passing by.

Rush currently lives his Officer Middaugh, and the officer’s wife and children. He accompanies his handler to work each night.

Leo Sokoloski, the Director of CU Police, stressed the importance of this funding goal. These trained canines also help foster positive relations between police and the communities they protect. Rush is a “great asset to the campus community. His skill set is invaluable”, said Sokoloski.

Once trained, these dogs require standard care and love like any other. Annual reoccurring costs include monthly proficiency/in-service training ($2,000 annual), dog food ($1,200 annual), veterinarian costs ($1,000 annual), and training aids ($500 annual). These goals are to be donated through area veterinarian hospitals and dog food supply companies.

Fortunately, the Bloomsburg Community Government Association (CGA) is donating a used CGA specialty vehicle.

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Carly Busfield, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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