Penn State

Penn State police K-9 handler placed on leave after report of animal abuse

A Penn State police officer was placed on administrative leave in July after the department received a report of possible animal abuse by one of its K-9 handlers, a university official said Monday.

The department immediately referred the report to state police, which is investigating, university police public information officer Jenn Cruden wrote in an email on behalf of the department. The dog has since been boarded, she said.

The university declined to release the officer’s name because the investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed. State police trooper and public information officer Joseph Dunsmore on Tuesday confirmed the department has been investigating the report, but declined to comment further.

Penn State Police Officers’ Association President Josh Quimby, who is also one of the university’s three K-9 handlers, declined to comment Tuesday.

The Penn State police K-9 unit was established in the 1990s and provides security services at university infrastructure throughout the state. The unit responds to more than 30 emergency calls for service annually, ranging from investigating bomb threats at schools and businesses to providing security at large scale venues.

University police Lt. Matt White, who supervises the university’s K-9 unit, said Cruden’s statement was made on his behalf and declined to comment further.

It’s not the first time a local law enforcement officer was investigated for animal abuse.

State Department of Corrections Sgt. Chad Holland, 43, was cited in August 2016 for cruelty to animals after he left Totti, a 2-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, in a vehicle for about two hours during a training exercise at Rockview state prison.

Totti was found unresponsive and died about five hours later.

Holland, Totti’s handler, pleaded no contest in December 2016 and was sentenced to fines and restitution, according to a court document.

Bret Pallotto primarily reports on courts and crime for the Centre Daily Times. He grew up in Lewistown and graduated from Lock Haven University.