Whitehall police officer Ryan Dompier instantly knew when his new partner found him.

"It was just one of those feelings you get -- I knew he was going to be my partner," Dompier said about Summit, a 2-year-old German shepherd and Belgian Malinois mix.

Dompier picked Summit from among 29 dogs that he and an Ohio State Highway Patrol sergeant visited at Vohne Liche Kennels, a K-9 training facility in Denver, Indiana.

"We hit it off in testing, and I knew my dog had found me," said Dompier, who is living his dream of being a K-9 handler after working with K-9s in other capacities for the Arvada Police Department in suburban Denver, Colorado.

Dompier, 36, worked 10 years as a police officer in Arvada, a city of about 120,000 residents west of Denver with a department of nearly 200 officers, before relocating with his family to central Ohio.

He worked six years in the patrol bureau and four years in narcotics.

After his move to central Ohio, friends in law enforcement suggested he take a look at Whitehall, and Dompier joined the department in January 2017.

It was good timing for Dompier.

Within a week, Whitehall police began looking for the fourth and final K-9 for its unit.

"I made it well-known it's what I've always wanted to do," Dompier said.

He added he wanted to be a K-9 handler in Arvada, but the job didn't open up until a few weeks after he left.

But his experience there earned him a spot here.

Whitehall Sgt. Dan Wardlow, one of the department's four K-9 handlers, said Dompier's experience in Colorado working in narcotics and in K-9 certification made him a natural fit to round out Whitehall's unit.

"His narcotics background lent to why he was picked for the team," Wardlow said.

Other members of the K-9 unit are Wardlow and his partner, Youg-al; officer Kyle Jacobs and his partner, Zara; and officer Jesse Hackney and his partner, Breti.

Wardlow's dog is a bomb-sniffing dog; the other three are narcotics K-9s.

The cost of each K-9 -- estimated about $80,000 for the dog, a specially equipped vehicle and other equipment -- is funded by the Law Enforcement Trust Fund. The fund comprises property and proceeds that the department's narcotics bureau has seized, Whitehall police Chief Mike Crispen said.

Town and Country Animal Clinic provides veterinary care for the K-9s, Wardlow said.

Dompier said he named his partner Summit for two reasons: It's a reference to his previous Colorado home; and also to his wife's observation that he had reached the summit of his law-enforcement career, realizing his dream of being a K-9 handler.

"She told me, 'This is what you've always wanted,' " he said.

Summit, like every K-9, is a part of his handler and partner's family, residing with Dompier's wife, Ashlie, and their children: 8-year-old twins, a 5-year-old and a 2-year-old.

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