The sound of barking dogs turned heads Wednesday morning just as a procession of K-9 patrol vehicles, their dome lights activated, rolled into the parking lot of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department.
They came from departments around the Capital Region — as far away as Albany — to honor the department’s late K-9 Blitz and his longtime handler and partner, Deputy Wayne Peters. Some 30 officers, 40 civilians and 10 dogs were present for the farewell.
The 12-year-old drug-sniffing and tracking dog, a German shepherd, died Easter morning after suffering a sudden onset of “bloat/stomach twist.” Peters and Blitz had been together for nine years, during which time their work led to numerous arrests and drug seizures.
As successive speakers stood before the lectern to discuss Blitz and Peters or the importance of the department’s K-9 program, the visiting K-9 officers stood at attention on the lawn, their dogs sitting or lying on the grass beside them. Fulton County Deputy Bert Simonds, the handler of the department’s surviving dog, Mocha, a 6-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever, joined fellow K-9 officers on the grass.
“It means a lot,” Peters said after the service. “The support has been overwhelming and unbelievable.”
Reflecting on the bond he forged with the dog who, between 12-hour shifts, was the family pet, Peters said, “it was a tough loss.”
Sheriff Thomas J. Lorey presented Peters with two plaques commemorating Blitz and local artist Denise Kennedy gave the deputy an oil painting of the dog.
Kennedy said she went right to work on the painting after learning about Blitz’s death. “When I saw the piece about Wayne’s dog, my heart just broke,” she said.
Lorey reminded the assembly attending the ceremony that the department is well on its way to raising the money to acquire at least one more dog. He urged friends of Peters to encourage him to commit to what would be his third K-9.
With three years left until retirement, Peters said he has mixed feelings about making a third commitment. Nonetheless, he said, “I very well might.”
Lorey said the Fulton County Sheriffs Association, the nonprofit organization that raises money for the various pieces of equipment and programs, has already raised about $7,000 toward one or more dogs.
The Broadalbin American Legion Post contributed $4,000 after conducting a successful walk-a-thon on a recent weekend.
Lorey said a kennel in California is offering two dogs for a total of $10,000. He said the department and the association are reviewing that proposal. The dogs are guaranteed and can be returned if after 90 days they prove unsuitable, Lorey said.
Anyone interested in making a donation may send a check to the association at P.O. Box 20, Johnstown, N.Y. 12095.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: Schenectady County