Earlier this month, South Londonderry Township supervisors officially welcomed the township police department’s new K-9 unit Freyja, a Belgian Malinois and German shepherd mix.

Freyja (Photo provided by Nicholas Ague)

Read More: South Londonderry supervisors continue work on revised zoning ordinance

Freyja and her handler, Officer Nicholas Ague, completed a five-week training course at Iron Rose K-9 school, where they learned to work as a team to handle a variety of situations that may come up in police work.

“It’s exciting, because I get to see another dog come through what I’ve already been through with my first K-9,” said Ague. “But the fact that I’m almost 10 years older, it’s definitely more physically demanding for me, but that’s not a bad thing.”

As a dual-purpose police K-9 unit, Ague and Freyja are trained in narcotics detection and patrol work. Patrol work encompasses tracking, evidence detection, suspect apprehension, and handler protection.

“Some people have a misconception about what a dog is used for in policework,” said Ague. He explained that from drug detection to missing person or suspect tracking, most K-9 work utilizes the dog’s superior sense of smell.

Ague said that, “98 to 99 percent of a dog’s work, considering dual purpose canines, is all with their nose. Bite work is a very minimal thing that actually occurs in the work life of a K-9.”

“Dogs can smell odors that are buried or hidden among other odors in small, trace amounts, that humans wouldn’t be able to smell if it were right under their nose.”

While Ague and Freyja had to pass a written examination and a performance exam to become certified, they must continue attending training classes twice a month throughout Freyja’s service to maintain their certification, as well as pass a yearly exam.

Nicholas Ague and Freyja at a South Londonderry Township meeting earlier this month.

Freyja is one of very few K-9 units in the area, so Ague and Freyja will likely be called upon to assist nearby municipalities’ police departments as well, Ague said.

The unit will also be presenting at several local schools each year.

Ague said that K-9 units allow officers to go about their work far more safely, a sentiment reaffirmed by Police Chief William Reigle.

“A big [benefit] is officer safety,” said Reigle. “Suspects are a lot less likely to be violent if they know there’s a dog.”

At Freyja’s introduction to the supervisors, sergeant Gerry Cassel said that while they cannot know what would have happened in the past if previous K-9 unit Rex had not been there, he is confident Rex greatly helped the department.

“I can say with confidence that Rex diffused many situations and I believe based on one specific occasion likely saved the lives of one or more officers,” said Cassel.

Ague was the handler for Rex, who retired in January after serving for eight years as the department’s narcotics detection dog.

South Londonderry supervisor Faith Bucks holds a framed photo of Rex presented to the board at a South Londonderry Township meeting earlier this month.

“The older they get, just like humans, the more prone they are to arthritis and other health issues,” said Ague. “I wanted to retire him while he was still pretty healthy so he could enjoy his retirement.”

Rex still lives with Ague as his family pet, alongside Freyja.

“After a lot of hours and a lot of anxiety, we’ve got them to the point of playing with each other,” said Ague.

Max and Freyja. (Photo provided by Nicholas Ague)

Freyja, like Rex before her, is being paid for fully through community donations, which can be paid through checks to the South Londonderry Township K-9 fund.

“People have donated to our unit because they strongly believe in K-9 units,” said Ague.

Read More: South Londonderry Township police set $25,000 fundraising goal for new K-9 unit

Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using this contact form and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

Do you want to see more from LebTown?

Support local news. Cancel anytime.

Already a member? Login here

Free news isn’t cheap. If you value the journalism LebTown provides to the community, then help us make it sustainable by becoming a champion of local news. You can unlock additional coverage for the community by supporting our work with a one-time contribution, or joining as a monthly or annual member. You can cancel anytime.

Emily Bixler was born and raised in Lebanon and now reports on local government. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and going for hikes.


LebTown membership required to comment.

Already a member? Login here

Leave a comment

Your email address will be kept private.