Sentry Insurance Employees Meet New K-9 Officer Szeci

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MTT News's picture
By: 
Katherine Perreth

MIDDLETON–Communicator in multiple languages, world traveler, partner of Howard Statz, and catcher of suspected law-breakers, Szeci (pronounced Zekey) has already led an adventurous life in his short 16 months on Earth. The German Shepherd Belgian Malinois mix is also the newest member of the Middleton Police Department, and the first of his kind on the force.

“I’m his only handler, and I hope to get five to seven years working with him, as long as possible, before his body slows,” said Officer Statz of his 65-pound, rambunctious sidekick. Statz intentionally selected a smaller dog, he said, in case he must lift his partner. However, Szeci’s bobbed tail wasn’t for weight reduction—the pup had injured himself doing backflips in his Pennsylvania kennel, Statz explained. 

Originally from Budapest, Hungary, Szeci spent two months in Pennsylvania at a training facility where he learned Dutch commands. Statz joined Szeci for another six weeks, to bond, train and so Statz also could learn commands in Dutch. “Although we’ve shortened some of them,” Statz said with a grin, abbreviating or blending them with English. 

The pair arrived in Middleton April 20, and it wasn’t long before Szeci apprehended his first suspect, Statz said, proving the canine’s value. A robber had fled from Waunakee and hid in a marsh. “He heard Szeci barking and said, ‘I want none of that,’” and surrendered, Statz said. 

Calling training an “ongoing process, every day,” Statz said Szeci also engages positively with people. “He has work mode, but we also wanted a sociable dog, to do events, hang out with people,” Statz explained.

On June 7, Szeci delighted the large crowd of Sentry Insurance employees gathered outside their Middleton branch. The building on Deming Way had been the site of a workplace shooting in September 2018, and it was that incident which prompted the company to donate $37,000 to the Middleton Police Department.

“We were so impressed with the department’s response (that day) and wanted to do something meaningful, helpful for them,” said Carolyn Schamberger, Sentry Director of Corporate Communication. In conversations with the police department, the company learned about the K-9 Unit fundraising campaign.

“We’re animal lovers at Sentry and this was a great fit,” added Stephanie Smith, Sentry Chief Marketing Officer.

The donation helped the department quickly obtain a specially-outfitted vehicle, equipment, Szeci and the training for him and his dedicated handler. “Donations like this don’t come very often,” Statz said. “Without it, we’d still be fundraising.”

Sentry associates Danielle Such and Jeff Endres had been at work on that tragic September day. Endres, a 2005 Middleton High School graduate, voiced his appreciation of the Middleton Police Department as well, “What they did that day was incredible.” 

But on this sunny meet ‘n’ greet day, Endres and Such were simply two in a crowd of fascinated Szeci fans, as the dog displayed his playful character as well as immediate attention to Statz’s Dutch commands to sit, heel, let go and play.

“We’re thrilled to be here,” said Statz, “so they (Sentry staff) can see the outcome of their donation.”

When he isn’t training or frolicking, Szeci is always “on call,” available to perform narcotics detection, evidence location, handler protection and tracking, anywhere in Dane County, Statz said. 

Suspects notwithstanding, Statz said Szeci has quickly stolen hearts, “Everyone loves to see him tearing around, drooling, giving hugs.”

 

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