In a few short weeks, Waterloo residents will notice a new member of the police department: a fun-loving, hard-working German shepherd named Tobi.
Tobi will officially make Waterloo his new home on Sept. 24 after he and Waterloo Police Department Officer Steve Moravec, his handler, return from Vohne Liche Kennels training program in Denver, Ind.
Tobi, now approximately 1.5 years old, was born in Hungary and later brought to the United States for further training, where he met Moravec.
In Indiana, Moravec and two other handlers chose from eight K9s. There, he and Tobi formed a special connection.
“What drew me to Tobi was the way he detects narcotics. He’s a big boy, so when I saw him I knew he was my dog,” Moravec said.
Tobi is considered a dual-purpose K9. Not only is he trained to detect narcotics, he also can track and apprehend people.
“He’s going to be a big asset because (in) detecting narcotics, they’re trained on the odor and their noses are thousands of times stronger than ours,” Moravec said. “With tracking (and) the way we’ve had recent car burglaries and people running through the area, these dogs can pick up the scent and lead you to where they last were.”
Trained K9s take protecting and serving to a whole new level, not only keeping the community safe, but also their human co-workers.
“They’re our protectors,” Moravec said. “If we have to search a building for a suspect, they can go in and clear the building and limit the exposure of the officers.”
After years without a K9 in the department, the WPD is excited to have one of its own. Moravec said he looks forward to Tobi being able to assist other departments, just as the Monroe County K9s have helped his.
“I think it’s going to be good for our community to have a K9 right there in town,” Moravec said. “The county has two other K9s and they’ve been a big help, but it’s going to be nice that we can have a little bit of quicker response if we need to use the dog for anything.”
Like any good first responder, Tobi upholds an excellent work-play balance, Moravec said.
“He’s a very lovable dog. He likes pats and rubs,” Moravec said. “What I like about Tobi is he’s perfect for our community because he’s sociable as well as when he’s working, you can count on him.”
Tobi will be joining the WPD thanks to a $10,000 donation from the Waterloo Independent Order of Oddfellows Lodge 27. Tobi will officially be introduced to lodge members on Oct. 17, where he will sit for a photo op.
“The contribution that the Oddfellows gave is greatly appreciated,” Moravec said.
Tobi’s arrival has been a long time coming, as the WPD has been wanting a K9 ever since Sgt. Trin Daws’ K9 Ayla passed away.
Moravec said he jumped at the opportunity to handle his first K9.
“Our department was seeing who would be interested and thankfully I got the opportunity to have a dog because I’ve always loved dogs and animals,” Moravec said. “I have a partner with me all shifts now, and he’s going to be a great partner.”
Moravec said he is looking forward to learning more about Tobi and from other K9 handlers.
“As far as training with a K9, you continue training and I look forward to working with all the local K9 handlers. They train twice a month together, so I look forward to training with them as well as learning from them,” Moravec said.