Purrfect Addition: St. Marys Police Department Adds Feline Unit

Staff Writer

The St. Marys Police Department has grown by four paws and a purr.
The newest officer is Killer — a descendant of the European wildcat species out of Scotland — who will aid officers in detecting drugs in homes, cars and other small spaces as part of the newly established St. Marys Feline Unit.
"The cat can easily get under car seats and check engine compartments," St. Marys Police Chief Mark Ernst said. "It can get into all the crevices."
Ernst said he had heard about new feline drug units and how they were benefitting police departments across Europe, so he decided to check them out himself.
“At first I was a little skeptical about adding a feline unit," he said. "However, after doing research and visiting Scotland for a demonstration, I knew this was for us.”
Killer, who got his name for his exceptional mouse hunting skills — another asset he brings to the force — joins current St. Marys K-9 Officer Scout.
"It's cheaper to operate," Ernst said of having a feline in the department. "The food's not as a expensive, they're a little more self-sufficient. The cost of the cat is much cheaper than the dog."
Killer will stay with Officer Nathan McMaster, who was promoted to head of the feline drug unit after going through specific training on feline handling, and will have everything he needs in McMaster's patrol car when they're on the job.
"There's plenty of room in the back of the car for food, water and a litter box," Ernst said.
In addition to being trained in drug detection, Killer will also be beneficial for locating lost children — similar to a dog, he is trained in tracking smells.
“Killer will be able to fit into spaces our current K-9 cannot," Ernst said. "Killer will be very valuable when it comes to locating lost juveniles, as well as detecting drugs.”
So far, Killer has found a home at the St. Marys Police Department.
“Killer is already acclimating to life at the police department," Ernst said, adding. "A local vet donated food and medical care, and we have been getting donations of food and even cat toys. However, we have had to restrict Killer’s intake of cat nip to keep him fresh for duty.”
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