- Associated Press - Sunday, January 4, 2015

WACO, Texas (AP) - The former K-9 handler for a Central Texas sheriff’s office has been reprimanded following accusations of making the canine vicious and anti-social.

An internal investigation found that McLennan County Cpl. Joseph Ballew changed the dog, Ace, into an aggressive animal that bit a deputy during an improper training exercise, the Waco Tribune-Herald (https://bit.ly/1Aocza0 ) reported Sunday.

Ballew disputed the findings and defended his methods, calling the report “completely one-sided.”

“The county paid an ungodly amount of money for that dog,” Ballew said of the $15,000 the county spent to get Ace. “Why would I intentionally do something to hurt that dog?”

Ballew acknowledged making a mistake with the 2-year-old Belgian Malinois leading up to the deputy being bitten. He said there were too many people in the room during a training exercise and that conditions were too crowded.

The investigation began in September after Ace’s aggressive behavior concerned staff at a Louisiana K-9 training academy, where the dog was with a new handler.

“We had a problem with the dog, it was a bump in the road and we took care of it,” Sheriff Parnell McNamara said. “The dog is not ruined. We got him tuned up and he is in good shape now. We would not tolerate anybody mistreating an animal.”

Ballew, 31 and a nine-year veteran with the sheriff’s office, is now in a patrol unit

The investigation portrayed Ballew as someone who allegedly thought of Ace as more of a toy or showpiece. Accusations included Ballew urging Ace to perform tasks that seemingly had nothing to do with police work but instead showcased his athletic prowess.

Some of those tactics, the report says, tended to frustrate the dog by setting him up to fail, including jumping up onto a 5-foot-tall filing cabinet in the squad room that had a narrow, 15-inch square for a landing pad.

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