California Borough settles case related to K-9

April 11, 2014
Tracy Hudak is shown with the California Borough K-9 officer, Argo, in this March 2010 photo. - Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Tracy Hudak, former acting police chief of California, counted out $500 to borough solicitor D. Keith Melenyzer in a Washington County courtroom Friday afternoon, ending the dispute over ownership of Argo, the municipality’s K-9 officer.

Neither side admitted anything about the allegations the borough raised in the case last year when it sued Hudak for return of the dog, which was purchased in early 2009 with a $4,500 federal grant.

“Give your $500 to Mr. Melenyzer in front of the court, and I’ll consider it done,” said President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca, who convened the brief hearing after the borough and Hudak had been negotiating for more than an hour.

Once Hudak paid the money, the borough agreed to withdraw its suit. Hudak keeps the dog.

After the courtroom appearance, Melenyzer, who was accompanied by a member of council and the current police chief, said Hudak had spent several thousand dollars on veterinary bills for the dog’s care without making a claim against the borough.

Hudak said outside the courtroom she is doing “other work,” not law enforcement. Argo has suffered a bout of pancreatitis but is “doing better,” she said.

Hudak’s attorney, Steven Toprani, said, “It is standard procedure when a K-9 handler leaves employment for retirement or other reasons that the K-9 officer is often retired in that same fashion.”

While the dog was not present in court Friday, Toprani, a former Washington County district attorney, said, “He’s been in the DA’s office. He served for me with the drug task force.”

Hudak, who began working in the department and rose to the level of acting chief, resigned Dec. 14, 2012, under the terms of her worker’s compensation settlement, the lawsuit stated.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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