Fund effort for new K-9 unit approved

St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Deputy Robert W. Lent Jr. with his partner K-9 Deputy Knowlton in March. The sheriff’s office has been approved by the county Board of Legislators to accept donations to fund a second K-9 partnership. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

CANTON — The St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office is anticipating adding a second K-9 unit next year, and now has approval from the county Board of Legislators to collect funds to support the effort.

During last week’s county Operations Committee meeting, legislators unanimously passed a resolution for the county treasurer to establish a sheriff’s office reserve account for collecting funds for the new team, equipment and training up to a total of $25,000.

Sheriff Brooks J. Bigwarfe said the office has already received donations from community members over the last month, and that initial costs for K-9 units are typically funded by a combination of donations and money from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations. He added he doesn’t expect to need the maximum $25,000 to fund the second team.

A new partnership between Deputy K-9 Knowlton and Deputy Sheriff Robert W. Lent Jr. officially began in February, after the pair completed training at Phillips Command Dogs, a professional training facility in Olean.

Certified in tracking and narcotics detection, Knowlton is the 10th K-9 to serve in the county program, following Maxx, Shadow, Flint, Keiser, Bo, Myers, Dino, Hershey and Fable. Her namesake is the late Keith K. Knowlton, who headed county law enforcement as sheriff from 1979 until 1999. In 1982, Sheriff Knowlton introduced the K-9 program that has since facilitated suspect tracking, searches for lost children and the discovery of illicit drugs.

Though K-9 Knowlton is certified in both tracking and drug detection, Mr. Bigwarfe said the emphasis is on illicit drugs and that the second K-9 unit would focus more heavily on tracking.

Those interested in supporting the sheriff’s office K-9 program may send donations to the Sheriff’s Office, 49½ Court St., Canton, NY 13617. Checks should note the K-9 program as the intended use.

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