Deputy dog to join Letcher County Sheriff’s Office arsenal against addiction

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WHITESBURG, Ky. (WYMT) -The Letcher County Sheriff’s Office is hoping to add a new face to its patrol team.

”She will be tremendous to our department- to citizens. She will pay off huge for us,” said Sheriff Mickey Stines.

Zara, a two-year-old German Shepherd, has been training with Southern Ohio Police K-9 for her career as a K-9 officer. Last month, Stines posted a call to action, informing the community of his office’s plan to bring Zara on board.

“Drugs have overtaken us. We’re never going to stop that problem, but we are here to handle it and work on it and do the best job we can,” said Stines.

The extra paws on patrol, according to Stines, will not only help his crew take a bigger bite out of crime, but will expand his arsenal against addiction. The office has a “Care Before Cuffs” initiative to help people into recovery, on a mission to break the cycle of addiction for the people of Letcher County.

”Somebody comes up to you on the street and they say, ‘Man, I’ve turned my life around. You all really saved our life.’ It 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, bringing in enough money to pay for 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 expenses will continue to come as part of annual training and the usual expenses of a deputy dog. He said he is overwhelmed with the support the decision has received, saying it is about creating a safer place for everyone.

“That really means the world to me and this office. People that are struggling day-to-day- money’s tight for everybody- that they’ll come in and give us a private donation,” he said.

Stines says the details of who will be Zara’s handler are still in the works, but he expects training to begin in March and hopes to be working with the new asset in a few months.

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