K9 Crusader

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Published by IN Community Magazines – South Fayette Fall 2016

PITTSBURGH – After Pittsburgh Police K-9 Officer Rocco died in the line of duty in 2014, Noah Magdich wanted to do what he could to prevent a similar tragedy from occurring again. The man who stabbed Rocco was sentenced to serve between three and a half and seven years in prison.

“I have always been a dog person,” says Noah, whose family has a 2-year-old boxer-greyhound mix named Banjo. “It really affected me to see Rocco killed.”

A junior at South Fayette High School, Noah is a member of Boy Scout Troop 248 in Oakdale and last year he organized a fundraiser as part of his Eagle Scout project. He collected more than $5,000 and used the money to purchase a protective vest for Lord, a K-9 officer at the Scott Township Police Department. Lord is an 8-year-old German shepherd who is trained to detect narcotics. The vest only cost about $800 so Noah also purchased a temperature control unit for about $2,100 that will alert Lord’s partner, Officer Shane McGrath, when it gets too hot in the patrol car. McGrath’s cruiser already had a control system, but the new equipment was an upgrade because it will send a text to McGrath’s cell phone and open the doors so that Lord can get out in an emergency. Even after buying the additional equipment, Noah still had about $2,200 left over, which he donated to the Scott Township Police Department to make additional K-9 equipment purchases in the future.

It took about a year to complete the project. The temperature control unit was installed in March, and in May, Lord received the vest, which will help protect him from being stabbed or shot. Noah hosted a pancake breakfast at St. Barbara Roman Catholic Church in Bridgeville last year and recruited volunteers to help cook pancakes. About 250 people attended and the event collected about $2,700. He raised the rest of the money by creating an online fundraiser at gofundme.com. He also posted fliers advertising his fundraiser at his church and other locations.

“I was expecting some support, but not this much,” Noah says.

He has stayed in contact with Lord and McGrath and says Lord wears the protective vest whenever he enters a dangerous situation. Noah also participated in the Scott Township Public Safety Day in June and helped demonstrate how K-9 officers neutralize suspects. He wore a bulky suit, which was hot and heavy, but protected him from Lord’s powerful bite.

“I was very nervous but excited,” he says. “Officer McGrath knows grown men who wouldn’t put the bite suit on. When Lord latched on, I could feel the pressure of his bite on my arm but no pain.”

Noah expects to complete all the requirements to become an Eagle Scout by October. He became a Boy Scout in the first grade and has wanted to become an Eagle Scout since he watched a friend’s induction several years ago. Scouting has taught him a lot of practical skills, such as survival and automotive maintenance. Noah also served as senior patrol leader and learned how to be patient when he was supervising younger scouts.

“Scouting is very beneficial for helping you learn and grow,” Noah says.

In addition to his passion for scouting, he is also interested in martial arts and being a firefighter. He’s been studying at the House of Martial Arts Karate Academy in Oakdale for two years and recently became a second-degree green belt. He plans to join the Marine Corps after graduating high school and wants to become a black belt before enlisting, then become a martial arts instructor in the Marine Corps.

Noah would also like to continue the family legacy of working as a firefighter after his enlistment in the Marine Corps is over. In April, he became a junior firefighter at the Presto Volunteer Fire Department. His great-grandfather helped found the department in 1947, his father is a captain and his uncle is an assistant chief. As a junior firefighter, he has attended more than a dozen calls, including a two-car accident near Trader Jack’s Flea Market on July 4. Noah helped direct traffic, carry tools and clean up debris.

“It’s an amazing rush when you get that call and you are going down the road with blue lights and everyone is moving out of the way,” he says. “You know you are going to help someone. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was six years old.”

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