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Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis pictured with members of the WCSO K9 Unit including canines Maya & Jaxx along with Petco Foundation Regional Program Mananger Lee Domaszowec announced that the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office is the recipient of a $30,000 Petco Foundation Helping Heroes Grant Award for their exemplary use of Shelter Dogs in Law Enforcement.  In the background is the new construction of a 2,200 square foot recreation and exercise canine pen made possible by the Helping Heroes Grant.

West Boylston –  The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office today announced it has been awarded a $30,000 Helping Heroes Grant from the Petco Foundation. The grant is in support of the Sheriff’s Office K9 unit for their exemplary use of shelter dogs for law enforcement and narcotics detection.  Since taking office in January 2011, Sheriff Evangelidis has made it a priority to replace retiring canines within the department with shelter or surrender dogs for law enforcement and narcotics detection purposes.  

Currently, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office K9 unit is comprised of four dogs. Nikkita and Jaxx, both labrador mix breeds, are single purpose narcotics detection canines donated to the Sheriff’s Office by the Sterling Animal Shelter.  While on duty with their partners, Lt. Thomas Chabot and Officer Derek Peck, Jaxx and Nikkita routinely sniff search inmate cells, incoming jail mail, visiting areas as well as inmate work crews upon their return to the correctional facility.   Along with the team’s newest member Duke, a 14 month old yellow lab and surrender from Holden, all three pooches are highly trained in detection of illicit drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy & methamphetamines as well as prescription drugs such as oxycodone, hyrdrocodone, oxycontin and other opiate based derivatives.

In addition to narcotics detection, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office K9 unit also conducts missing persons searches as well as criminal apprehensions thanks to Maya, a bloodhound that was donated to the Sheriff’s Department and routinely assists local communities in active searches with her partner Officer Peter Campo.

Serving as a role model department for other law enforcement agencies across the country by implementing the use of shelter and surrender dogs into their K9 Unit, the Petco Foundation awarded its Helping Heroes Grant to the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.  

“We are honored to support the work of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office.  We are impressed with their K9 team and applaud their commitment to replacing retiring dogs with shelter dogs,” said Susanne Kogut, Executive Director of the Petco Foundation.  “By saving these dogs and transforming them into successful members of their communities, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office showcases just how special animals awaiting adoption are which inspires others to choose pet adoption. We are grateful for their progressive and innovative program.”  said Kogut.

The Petco Foundation each year provides millions of dollars in grant awards to make a difference in the lives of animals.  The Foundation is funded through donations raised in Petco’s more than 1,400 stores as well as from Petco associates, vendors and corporate contributions.  Created in 1999, money raised through the foundation has gone directly to help over 5 million animals to promote and nurture positive animal programs and healthier pets, including adoption, medical care, cancer research, therapy and numerous other lifesaving initiatives.

This year’s Helping Heroes Grant award in support of the heroes of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit will help provide a year’s worth of dog food, veterinary fees, supplies such as dog beds and water bowls, national bloodhound training, narcotic training aids for the detection dogs and a new 2,200 square foot climate controlled kennel and exercise pen for the department’s furriest members.  

“The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office is honored to be the recipient of the Petco Foundation’s Helping Heroes Grant for our exemplary work with shelter dogs in law enforcement.   All four of our canines came from extraordinary circumstances including homelessness and surrender to become highly trained and sophisticated single purpose detection dogs serving both our Department as well as the citizens of Worcester County.”  Evangelidis continued  “This grant will assist with their training, supplies, veterinary & food costs as well as the construction of a new 2,200 square foot recreation & exercise K9 Pen.  Our dogs work hard everyday in the line of duty, they truly are local heroes.”  said Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis.