Photo shows Officer Steven Alexander and his K-9 partner Officer Axel in the gym Oct. 18 when the K-9 and mounted unit visited the school to talk about the role of horses and dogs in police work. The day was planned in honor of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals.

Officer Eric Lukacs told students that police horses and dogs work in atypical roles and must be treated kindly if they are to do their jobs well.

“The work is not typical of their lifestyle,” Lukacs said while mounted atop his horse, Officer Liam, in the Resurrection Catholic School parking lot. “They are in the city with cars and horns and fighting people and making arrests,” he said. “It’s not typical, so you have to form a bond with them to gain their trust.”

Lukacs, with the Lancaster City Police Mounted Unit, and Officer Steven Alexander with the K-9 unit, visited the school Oct. 18 to tell students how the animals help them. The school invited the officers in honor of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, whose feast day falls in October. Students donated $230.10 to help the department feed and care for the animals.

“Wow,” Alexander as he accepted the check. “We are entirely dependent upon donations to buy food and pay for vet bills. Thank you.”

Alexander assured the kindergarten through eighth grade students that Axel is a gentle dog who would attack only upon command. Alexander and the 4-year-old German Shepherd-Belgian Malinois have worked together two years. Not once during that time did Axel bite anyone, though the pair have made 15 apprehensions.

“He can do bite work, tracking, article find and narcotics detection – no matter where you hide it, he’ll get it,” Alexander said.

Students also met Officer Liam, a horse in the Mounted Unit. Lukacs, his partner of 10 years asked, “He doesn’t get paid so what does he need?” Students replies included food, a place to stay and treats, good answers, Lukacs said. “I have to let him know he’s important to me,” Lukacs explained, so he’ll do a good job.