WHITESBURG, Ky. (WYMT) – The Letcher County Sheriff’s Office is hoping to add a new face to its patrol team.
“It’s going to be huge for our department – for the citizens. It will pay off tremendously for us,” said Sheriff Mickey Stines.
Zara, a two-year-old German shepherd, trained with the Southern Ohio Police K-9 for her career as a K-9 officer. Last month, Stines issued a call to action, updating the community on his office’s plan to onboard Zara.
“Drugs have overtaken us. We’re never going to stop this issue, but we’re here to address it and work on it and do our best,” Stines said.
The extra paws on patrol, Stines says, will not only help his crew get a bigger bite out of crime, but also add to their arsenal against addiction. The office has a Care Before Cuffs initiative to help people recover with a mission to break the cycle of addiction for the people of Letcher County.
“Someone comes up to you on the street and says, ‘Man, I’ve turned my life upside down. You all really saved our lives.” It’s just… you can’t put into words what it means to you on a personal level,” he said.
Businesses, organizations and private donors have since contributed to the fund, raising enough money to pay the new officer.
Addiction Recovery Care, Appalachian Regional Healthcare, and Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation were among the list of donors who made the purchase possible. Stines said the costs would continue to be incurred as part of annual training and the usual costs of having a proxy dog. He said he was overwhelmed by the support the decision has received and said it is about creating a safer place for everyone.
“It really means the world to me and this office. People who are fighting every day – money is tight for everyone – to come in and give us a private donation,” he said.
Stines says details of who will be Zara’s custodian are still in the works, but he expects training to start in March and hopes to be up and running with the new asset in a couple of months.
Copyright 2022 WYMT. All rights reserved.