Oct 8, 2015
By Susan Spencer
Telegram & Gazette
October 7, 2015
Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis and Lt. Thomas Chabot of Ashburnham are seen Wednesday with drug detection dog Nikita.
The life of Nikita, a 3-year-old mutt adopted from Sterling Animal Shelter, is a Cinderella story.
Rescued off the streets of Puerto Rico, the 26-pound terrier-Labrador mix found a home with the Worcester County Sheriff’s department, where he works as a passive-alert narcotic-detection dog.
This fall, he’s capping his canine fairy-tale dream with red carpet appearances for the national PBS series highlighting animal shelters, “Shelter Me: Partners for Life.”
Nikita, his human partner Lt. Thomas P. Chabot, Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis and Sterling Animal Shelter Executive Director Leigh Grady were among those invited to Beverly Hills’ Writers Guild Theater Sept. 29 for the worldwide debut of the episode featuring Nikita’s law enforcement success.
On Oct. 20, the red carpet will roll out again at the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts in Worcester for the regional premiere.
Film producer and director Steven Latham of Los Angeles oversaw filming two years ago on location at Sutton High School, the county Jail and House of Correction, the Worcester Community Correction Center and at the Plymouth County Sheriff’s department, where some 30 shelter dogs from law enforcement around the state have been trained for service.
“Nikita’s future was rewritten,” Mr. Latham said in an interview.
“They got a great dog that you don’t even think of as a K-9 … that’s turned into a powerhouse,” he said. “It’s changed the image of shelter animals.”
The series aims to shine a spotlight on the crisis in animal shelters, according to Mr. Latham. Six to eight million cats and dogs are entering shelters in the United States and half of them are euthanized.
But Nikita’s experience demonstrates that far from being “throw aways,” these dogs can excel in roles including law enforcement and as friendly family pets.
Sheriff Evangelidis has brought in another shelter dog, Jaxx, because of Nikita’s success.
“It’s so progressive and so smart,” Mr. Latham said about the sheriff’s shelter-dog program, “I wanted them to be the model for the country.”
“What I love about the show is it represents law enforcement in a positive light. It represents shelter dogs in a positive light,” Mr. Evangelidis said.
His department adopted Nikita when an older dog was retiring and his budget didn’t have the thousands of dollars usually required for a purebred German shepherd, Belgian Malinois or other typical K-9 unit.
Sterling Animal Shelter donated Nikita, a Lancaster business, D’Ambrosio Eye Care, raised more than $1,000 for a bulletproof vest, training was free at the Plymouth County Sheriff’s department, and Holden Veterinary Clinic provides free medical care.
“We believe this is the perfect dog,” Mr. Evangelidis said. “Shelter dogs can do everything you need as well as any other dog, if you give them the opportunity.”
Nikita’s small, wiry size, not your typical imposing police dog, also works to his advantage. He can get under car seats, under bunks and in tight corners that would be out of bounds to larger dogs.
Out in the community, Nikita draws people to him, when he’s not wearing his collar indicating he’s in working mode, rather than scaring them away.
“It worked out to be a perfect fit for what we need him for,” Lt. Chabot said.
Nikita’s work day is busy. He sniffs for narcotics, particularly prescription painkillers, in incoming mail, on inmates, on offenders in community rehabilitation programs and wherever he might be called throughout the county. When he detects drugs, he sits down and places his nose where he finds the scent.
Nikita is food-reward trained, in which Lt. Chabot hands him a morsel to reward him for making a find.
That system applies around the clock, even when Lt. Chabot takes Nikita home at night to his wife and daughter. The lieutenant hides a packet of pseudo-heroin or cocaine somewhere around the house for Nikita to find before he is fed.
“He works for his breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Lt. Chabot said.
Mr. Evangelidis said Nikita has also been a deterrent to smugglers. The incidence of drugs found on site has gone down significantly with Nikita around.
But even a hardworking dog like Nikita deserves a night out now and then.
In Beverly Hills, “He was living the life,” according to Lt. Chabot. Nikita hobnobbed with actor and series host Jon Hamm’s shelter companion, Ruby, who sat in the front row with Nikita’s entourage at the screening.
Mr. Evangelidis said, “After the show, everybody was around him, wanting their picture taken with (Lt.) Tom (Chabot) and the dog. He was a celebrity.”
Worcester will have a chance to bask in Nikita’s star power at the Hanover Theatre’s “Shelter Me” premiere Oct. 20. A pre-reception starts at 6 p.m. and the screening is at 7 p.m.
Tickets are available by donation and all proceeds will go to support shelter animals.
For tickets go to the Hanover Theatre’s website, http://www.thehanovertheatre.org/showinfo.php?id=268, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oct 8, 2015
In this Oct. 24, 2013 photo from the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office shows service dog Nikita visiting a criminal justice class at Sutton Memorial High School in Sutton, Mass. Nikita, the mutt from a Massachusetts animal shelter who got a new life as a K-9 drug-detection dog, stars in an upcoming episode of a new PBS series called “Shelter Me: Partners for Life.” The Worcester County sheriff’s department in central Massachusetts turned to the shelter for help when there wasn’t enough money in the budget to replace its retiring tracking dogs.
Oct 8, 2015
Monday, September 21, 2015
By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Inmate Bruce Irene looks on as Officer Dan Joslyn cleans graffiti
off the bandstand with a high pressure solution of crushed walnut shells.
Northborough – Residents of all ages enjoy using the town’s Ellsworth-McAfee Park on South Street (Route 135). So when the small playground located there was recently defaced with graffiti, some of it pornographic, it was particularly distressing. But thanks to Worcester County Sheriff Lewis Evangelidis’s office, the playground is once again fit for children. And the best part of all? It did not cost taxpayers a dime since the work was done by a minimum security inmate from the Worcester County Jail and House of Corrections.
On Sept. 17 Lt. Steven Hynes of the sheriff’s Community Service Department received a call about the graffiti at the park. After assessing the situation in person, he made the arrangements for the department’s graffiti truck to take care of the problem.
Early the next day, Hynes, Officer Dan Joslyn and inmate Bruce Irene arrived at the park with the truck.
Joslyn explained that the truck has a special tank that is filled with finely crushed walnuts that are then sprayed onto a surface.
“It’s a powerful spray, 120 lbs. per square inch,” he said. “It can blast almost anything off.”
Because it is such a strong force, in some cases other types of cleaning agents may be used instead, so that the paint or another finish is not destroyed, he said. In the case of the Northborough park, the walnut solution was not used on the playground equipment – only on the brick bandstand and concrete sidewalk.
“Each material is different so sometimes it just takes a little trial and error to see what works,” he said.
At the Northborough park, vandals had defaced the bandstand, sidewalk and most of the playground equipment with pornographic images and strange, random phrases.
Inmate Bruce Irene attempts to clean graffiti off a piece of playground equipment.
Noting the pink paint that was used, Hynes said, “This was probably the work of teenagers. This was not a gang at work here.”
The sheriff’s department purchased the graffiti truck last spring, Joslyn said, and since then, it has been used to clean properties once or twice a week. The unit has helped both private businesses and public entities free of charge, he added. One or two inmates work at each job, he said.
“Graffiti is an eyesore no matter where it is,” he said. “It’s in the public’s best interest for it to be removed, whether it’s a private or public place.”
“Using inmates gives them a chance to learn some skills and is a way for them to give back to the community,” he added.
According to the Sheriff’s office, there have never been any problems reported because a walnut solution is used since the department began using it.
For more information on the program, contact Hynes in the Community Service Department of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office at 508-854-1938.
Oct 8, 2015
Below is a Press Release from the
Office of Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis
Sheriff Issues Community Alert
Beware of Scam Artists Using Sheriff’s Office Name & Number
West Boylston – Worcester County Sheriff Lewis G. Evangelidis is warning residents about a recent phone scam where scam artists are fraudulently using the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office name and phone number. In recent days, a caller identifying himself as a representative from the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office has attempted to pressure recipients on behalf of the United States Court of Federal Claims into providing payments, credit card & confidential data potentially leading to identity theft and fraud. The calls which use current phone app technology, display a valid Worcester County Sheriff’s Office number and threaten victims with fines and jail time if they do not comply. These phone calls are fraudulent and are not connected with the United States Court of Federal Claims or the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office. The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office does not contact residents and demand payments or ask for credit card information on behalf of the Courts and is asking residents to be vigilant against this most recent scam. Federal and State courts do not require anyone to provide any sensitive information in a telephone call or email. Most contact from federal or state courts is done through the U.S. mail and any phone contact by real court officials will not include requests for Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, or any other sensitive information. Persons receiving such a telephone call or email should not provide the requested information. Recent phone scams have also included fraudulent calls regarding IRS non-payment as well as non-compliance with Jury Duty.
“In recent months scam artists have attempted to use the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office name and phone number as a method to harass and fraudulently demand payment from unsuspecting individuals. Our department does not contact residents and demand payment or ask for credit card information. Today’s scam artists are always trying to stay ahead of the curve, residents need to beware of any unsolicited calls that ask for their credit card information.” Said Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis.
For more information please contact the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office at 508-854-1800 or visit www.worcestercountysheriff.com