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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2000:01:01 00:01:59

PHOTO/ROBERT BAKER Max, a 16-month-old German Shepherd was introduced to the Rotary Thursday, here with his caretaker Rich Seaberg.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2000:01:01 00:00:50

Rich Seaberg accepts a $1,500 check from Ann Way of the Tunkhaannock Rotary to help with the DARE program at the middle school.

The Tunkhannock Rotary was introduced last Thursday to a highly sensitive law enforcement tool during its meeting at Purkey’s Pink Apple.

Meet Max, a 16-month old German shepherd, which has become the latest passion of Tunkhannock Area school resource officer Rich Seaberg.

Seaberg got Max when she was eight weeks old, and she started training when she was five months old.

“My intention was more than just in obedience lessons,” Seaberg said, noting that one day he expected Max would be well versed in drug detection, explosive detection and search and rescue.

Seaberg noted that Max trains sometimes four days a week, and her trainer is Alan Finn of Old Forge, whom he pointed out trained another K-9 which helped find retired Judge Edwin Kosik when he disappeared in March over in Daleville.

Max is trained to respond to three languages, Seaberg noted: “English, German and French.”

“English is her normal language,” he said, “and when you speak in German, she knows she’s working. Her ears perk up. French is important, too, because she knows she’s going to get a treat.”

He gave a quick demonstration to all three and she responded well to the treat.

Seaberg said the first word Max learned was “No,” and she doesn’t really know the word, “stay.”

He said she has been trained to stay down for 15 minutes, and is working on getting that up to 30 minutes.

“She’s very protective of me, and if someone comes close, she’ll probably get up,” he said.

Max appears to have good socialization skills, and acquired them after going to ‘Bark and Bite Class’ with other canines.

Seaberg noted that although he is training Max on his own with the help of the Rotary and others, there is no agency of government which she works for.

“Search and rescue is one of the big issues that’s crucial in our county, and she’ll be there if and when the time comes,” he said, noting that a German Shepherd’s sense of smell is 20,000 times better than a human.

Asked about how long training would continue, Seaberg said that would go on for the life of the dog.

A year ago, the local Rotary was also introduced to Echo from Susquehanna County, which like Max, was not purchased or maintained with taxpayer money, but rather by donations and grants.

He was then the only K-9 officer in both Susquehanna and Wyoming counties, and Wyoming County has not had a police dog since 2009 when Chase was retired from the Tunkhannock Borough force.

Following Seaberg’s presentation, Ann Way, the Tunkhannock Rotary Club’s president, said her group has made a $2,500 donation toward Max’s training, and the Rotary District 7410 - which includes Tunkhannock - also made a similar donation.

It is all part of the Rotary’s commitment to keep our schools and communities safe, Way said.

She noted that a Drug Take Back Outreach Committee, chaired by Frank Oliver, also had a campaign to educate the public about prescription drug abuse.

This community outreach is an important part of Tunkhannock Rotary’s efforts in partnering with law enforcement to help combat drug abuse in the region.

The Tunkhannock Rotary is currently supporting efforts on three fronts.

On Thursday, it has made a donation of $1,500 to the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program through Tunkhannock Area’s Rich Seaberg at the middle school to warn children about drug abuse dangers.

In addition to talking about Max Thursday, Seaberg also spoke about what the students were learning in the program which attempts to empower students to respect others and choose to lead lives free from violence, substance abuse, and other dangerous behaviors.

Seaberg introduced a group of four DARE peer mentors from Tunkhannock Area High School (Paul DeMarco, Brian Muckin, RaeAnn Carpenter and Saira Gamez) who he said are a big help to the fifth graders who sometimes relate better to persons closer to them in age.

High school senior Muckin spoke for the group about DARE’s impact on him and others, and thanked the Rotary for supporting it.

The current class of fifth graders will have a graduation on Friday, April 21, to which Seaberg invited Rotarians to attend.

“Everybody’s invited,” he said, “and I thank you for your generosity.”

Another front for the local Rotary is the District Attorney’s Drug Take Back events to get the drugs out of people’s medicine cabinets - the next of which will be happening locally on April 29. The Rotarians have placed posters and yard signs around the region to get the word out about the Drug Take Back Day which will be going on from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you have unused or expired medicine, it can be turned in at Rite Aid or CVS in Tunkhannock or Lech’s Pharmacy in Laceyville and Nicholson.