Penn State

Penn State police K-9 handler will not face charges after animal abuse allegations

The Penn State police K-9 handler who was the subject of a state police animal cruelty investigation will not be charged because there was insufficient evidence to support a conviction, Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna said Friday.

The unidentified male officer was placed on administrative leave in July after a complaint was filed. State police at Huntingdon investigated the claim that the officer held the dog by the neck, struck it on the head and threw it to the ground, according to a state police press release issued Friday.

Those with knowledge of the incident were interviewed, along with K-9 experts. The dog was found to have no injuries after a full examination at an animal hospital, police said.

The investigation was turned over to Cantorna’s office, which determined in September that there was not enough evidence to move forward. The investigation was then closed, police said.

University police are reviewing the state police report, department spokeswoman Jenn Cruden said Friday in a statement. The officer has since returned to normal patrol duty, she said.

The department is also exploring options for the K-9, which was boarded after the complaint was filed. The dog is healthy, and the department’s goal is to have it return to the work it was bred and trained for, Cruden said.

The unit was established in the 1990s and provides security services at university infrastructure throughout the state. It 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.

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