Deputies detail heroic police dog stories
YATES COUNTY--The Yates County Sheriff's Office along with the New York State Sheriff's Institute hosted their annual K9 seminar last week. The certification course ran from Sunday, May 1 through Thursday, May 5, featuring around 40 K9 teams and instructors from across the northeast. Many of the officers and their dogs have worked together throughout the years and have had many accomplishments while working in the field.
Yates County Deputy Brandon Jensen detailed a few stories of when he and his K9 partner Kinney were able to locate specific individuals or items using the dog's heightened sense of smell.
"This past year during hunting season, we had a propane tank that was struck by a round from a hunter," Jensen said. "We couldn't identify the hunter, but we had a witness who saw approximately where they were standing. So I took Kinney out in the field with me and a DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) officer and I said 'Well, at a minimum, if we don't find anything out there, we will at least be able to track and see where they went.' We probably got about 300 yards into the search and I saw Kinney doing some circles. [...] We went over there and found and expended shell casing, so we were able to determine where the hunter was standing and where the rifle round was coming from."
Jensen said he had a similar incident with his old dog, where a house was hit by a slug. He said there were two shooters and they did not know who was responsible. Jensen said they were able to use the dog to find the spent shells and match it up with the round that hit the house.
Jensen also spoke about other incidents where the dogs were used to locate people. He said a DWI (driving while intoxicated) suspect took off running, and the dogs were used to find where he went. Jensen said there was a runaway along Route 14 a couple weeks ago where they brought in the K9 units to track an individual.
"The stuff we were walking through was pretty thick," Jensen said. "Most people would have thought they didn't go this way. But they don't want to be seen, so they are not going to be going through the easy stuff. We went through that, and it kind of reminded you of pushing deer, and the person was located on the other side of the woods where we were at."
There were also a few individuals from the Ontario County Sheriff's Department at the course who had some K9 stories of their own.
"Recently we had a large amount of burglaries in the Geneva area," said Patrick Fitzgerald. "Our bloodhound was used from the scene of the crime and tracked about a mile down the street right to the door of a residence. As a result of an investigation from that, we arrested someone out of that residence who was responsible for 13 burglaries. They can take us right to a door, so we definitely use them as much as we can. They are a useful tool for us."
Fitzgerald also recalled one of his very first deployments with the dog he has now, they were searching an attic for a parolee who was wanted on a warrant. After they located him in the attic, the person became combative, so the K9 unit Cecil engaged the suspect. Fitzgerald said in the scuffle, the floor fell out beneath them, with the officer falling halfway through and the dog falling all the way to the floor below.
"Even through all that, [Cecil] did his job to the best of his ability and hung on until he couldn't any longer," Fitzgerald said. "That was his very first deployment."