CANTON -- In the wake of a petition drive, community support and a promise from Sheriff Kevin Wells to pursue a solution, St. Lawrence County has reinstated its K-9 unit.
The St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Office has reinstated the K-9 patrol with the recent graduation of three cadets from the Police Academy in May and their impending completion of field training this month.
Undersheriff Scott Bono made the decision to cut the program due to a staffing shortfall in March.
The suspension of the program spawned a campaign and petitions circulation from a group calling itself ‘Save Hershey.’
Hershey, a chocolate Labrador retriever, worked with deputy Andrew Ashley as the county’s drug sniffing dog.
At that time Wells said the complaint work, incidents and calls for service and overall workloads have increased dramatically over the last 10 years, but staffing levels are near 1984 levels.
He said attempts to increase staffing at the department have been shot down by legislators as the county continues to face financial problems of its own.
However, a recent press release from the Sheriff’s Office said the program had been reinstated.
K-9 Hershey is a highly valued service and investigatory asset utilized by the department in its day to day operation, a press release from the Sheriff’s Office said.
On Thursday ‘Save Hershey’ released the following statement on its Facebook page:
“Save Hershey would like to start out by saying thank you for the copious amounts of support and love for Hershey and the St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Department K-9 unit. It brings us great joy and excitement to spread the word that the K-9 unit has been reinstated and Hershey is back at work. Hershey is undoubtedly an incredible asset to this community, and we will continue to post about his accomplishments throughout his career,” the post said.
“We would like to thank the entire St. Lawrence County Sheriff's Department, Sheriff Kevin Wells, Undersheriff Scott Bonno, Hershey's handler Deputy Andrew Ashley and everyone who rallied to bring Hershey back to work. He is a dog who lives and loves to make our community a safer place and he's back doing exactly that. When you see the St. Lawrence County Sheriff Department's K-9 unit drive past you, be proud because each and every member of this page helped make it possible.”