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Cops & Courts

Steelers quarterback Roethlisberger donates to local police dog units

  • Steelers-Haden-Football

    Newly acquired Steelers cornerback Joe Haden (2), talks with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger during an NFL football practice in Pittsburgh on Sept. 4.

    GENE J. PUSKAR / AP

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LORAIN — After years of providing nothing but misery to Cleveland fans, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger announced that he was contributing to the community by providing grants to the Lorain Police Department and the Medina County Sheriff’s Office police dog units.

The grants are the first to be awarded during the 2017 season from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund. During the NFL season, the foundation will be distributing grants to dog units of police and fire departments in the cities and surrounding communities of each regular season away gave for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Roethlisberger is an Ohio native — he was born in Lima and grew up near Findlay.

“He’s (Roethlisberger) a very big dog lover and supporter of K-9 programs across the country,” Lorain police Lt. Michael Failing said. “We learned about this from several other K-9 units in northern Ohio that said, ‘You guys need to apply for this. We’ve all applied for this, and he’s been very generous to Northern Ohio.”

Lorain police were awarded $10,000 in the grant, according to Failing.

“We applied for a grant to set up kennels at our substation so we can house our own dogs when the handlers go on vacation,” Failing said. “It will also allow us to house a stray dog in the community we may pick up. A lot of times, we can locate the owner, and they might say, ‘I can’t be there for two hours.’ We don’t have to take them to the pound. We can house them until the owner and dog can be reunited.”

Lorain Police Chief Cel Rivera was grateful for the grant as well.

“The Lorain Police Department would like to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for its generous donation, which will help ensure our K-9 program continues to serve our community as well as surrounding communities for years to come,” Rivera said.

The Medina County Sheriff’s Office will use the grant to purchase a ballistic vest for police dog Hendrix and a kennel for Rocky in an amount not to exceed $2,911. Hendrix and Rocky are members of the sheriff’s police dog unit. County commissioners approved accepting the grant Aug. 1.

When asked if the department had any reservations about accepting the money from the quarterback of the rival Steelers, Failing answered with a laugh, “Absolutely not.”

This year marks the 11th season the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has distributed police dog grants. The foundation has distributed more than $150,000 in grants to police dog units around the country last season and has distributed more than $1.65 million since 2007.

North Ridgeville police received a $10,000 grant last football season.

Contact Scott Mahoney at 329-7146 or smahoney@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @SMahoneyCT.

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