By Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The State Highway Patrol in Ohio has switched to buying and training its own canines instead of using a contractor, and the program’s first graduate is an 18-month-old male German Shepherd named Fox.

A patrol spokesman says getting and training a dog now costs about $7,200, less than half the previous amount. Lt. Craig Cvetan (suh-VEHT’-ehn) says the change also gives handlers a better understanding of the dogs and their training because they participate in all 10 weeks of training, instead of only half that.

A trooper from Piqua is the handler for Fox, who graduated Tuesday. The dog is trained in tracking, detecting narcotics, article and area searches, and apprehending suspects.

The agency now has 34 K-9s around the state, including two that are trained to detect explosives.

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