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Bel Air couple donate $2,800 to buy safety mechanisms for Harford County police dogs

Louis Storm gets some love from Harford County Sheriff's Office police dog Diogi as a thank you for Storm's donation that will allow the Sheriff's Office to buy two pop-and-lock systems to ensure the agency's police dogs' safety in their vehicles.
Louis Storm gets some love from Harford County Sheriff's Office police dog Diogi as a thank you for Storm's donation that will allow the Sheriff's Office to buy two pop-and-lock systems to ensure the agency's police dogs' safety in their vehicles.(Erika Butler/The Aegis)

Louis and Marion Storm met one of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office’s police dogs — Diogi — Thursday afternoon, as a thank you for their donation that will help keep the law enforcement agency’s dogs safe.

The Storms, who live in the Brightview Avondell senior living facility Bel Air, donated $2,800 to the Harford Sheriff Foundation to buy two pop-and-lock systems for police dog vehicles, which include special equipment.

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Cpl. John Sielback, Diogi’s handler, demonstrated the system the Storms donation will be used to buy.

“We’re here to say thank you to Mr. Storm and his wife for providing two systems,” Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said. “It keeps our dogs safe and it also keeps our handlers safe.”

The Hot-n-Pop system does two things — automatically cool down the dog’s vehicle when it gets too hot inside and remotely opens the door for the dog to get out.

If the car overheats when the dog is inside, it sounds an alarm and both back windows roll down automatically, Sielback said. A fan also comes on.

Harford County is considering lowering the temperature that a domestic pet can be left in a vehicle from under 80 degrees to under 70 degrees.

The system is also hardwired so if the deputy is outside the vehicle and needs the dog’s assistance, the deputy can hit a remote button and the dog can get out of the car.

“I’ve used the remote release three times in the field and it’s been awesome to have that,” Sielback said. “The dog instantly shows up — it’s a great, great resource, we very much appreciate it.”

Diogi barked his support, too, and wagged his tail as the Storms petted him.

The Storms moved in 1967 to Bel Air, where they built a house in the Evergreen Heights community. They always had dogs, Marion Storm said.

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“I’ve always has a good relationship with the sheriff’s department,” Louis Storm, who is 93, said. “And I love dogs, especially German Shepherds — we’ve had many ourselves. I just wanted to do anything I could to help the dogs with the sheriff’s department.”

The Sheriff’s Office has seven dogs — one a bloodhound used strictly for tracking — and six handlers, Sielback said.

Diogi, who turns 4 this month, is from the Czech Republic, and is trained in Czech and German commands, Sielback said.

The Storms asked about Diogi’s training when he came to Sielback.

As a puppy, Diogi learned the basics — what a bite sleeve is, some obedience and to know what it means to go after a person and bite them, he said.

He learned more when he arrived with his new handler.

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“It’s like school. They come with a grade school education and we take them to college level,” Sielback said.

In 19 years of handling a police dog, Sielback has only released his dog to bite 16 times — 90 other people have given up before the dog was let loose.

Harford County Circuit Court Judge Kevin Mahoney started a,drug court not only to help keep people out of jail, but more importantly, to treat their addiction.

“I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of him,” Louis Storm said.

“Most people don’t,” Sielback replied.

Diogi is named after a police dog that was killed with his handler in Polk County, Florida, in 2006 while tracking a man who fled a traffic stop.

“Because of that incident, a lot of tactics changed,” Sielback said. “I got him on the 10th anniversary of their deaths and I named him in honor of their memory.”

Storm joked with Gahler and Sielback that he and his wife wanted a dog they could take home, only they’re not allowed to have dogs larger than 25 pounds where they live.

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