The Southold Town Board awarded veterinarians from North Fork Animal Hospital with a proclamation for donating their time and services to treating police dogs over the years.
Councilman Bill Ruland said police dogs are vital to the community and there is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into keeping them healthy.
“There are people involved in making this ongoing, that no one really knows about, and it’s time to recognize them too,” Mr. Ruland said.
Jennifer Cabral and Rob Pisciotta, veterinarians for North Fork Animal Hospital, accepted the proclamation.
“Throughout the entire 14-year tenure of the Southold Town Police Department’s K-9 program, the North Fork Animal Hospital in Southold has cared for both of the department’s K-9s, provided regular veterinary examinations, vaccinations, medications, vitamins and all regulated services at no cost to the Town of Southold,” Supervisor Scott Russell said in his proclamation.
The Southold Police Department has had two dogs over the past 14 years. Their first dog was Ajax, who served for about five years. The department’s current dog, Hudzin, has served for almost eight full years. Hudzin, a nine-year-old German shepherd, came from the Czech Republic.
“We’re lucky enough to be served by North Fork Animal Hospital throughout these 14 years,” Police Chief Martin Flatley said.
Hudzin is trained in tracking and narcotics, with skills to go for the most recent human scent.
“Our meat and potatoes is tracking, looking either for a missing subject at night, that either fled a car stop or who burglarized a home or business,” said Officer Frank Mele. “Or evidence and article searching, if that person runs away and drops something.”
At a special presentation during Town Board Work Session Wednesday, the police demonstrated some of Hudzin’s talents.
After hearing the command “seek it up,” he located drug evidence that was planted by officers earlier in the day. Hudzin also found a fake gun Officer Mele placed under a tire in the parking lot of Southold Town Hall that morning. Hudzin gets rewarded with a toy when he locates the object.
Officer Mele has been with the police department since 1996 and has been the sold handler of the working dogs since 2004.
Dogs are selected by the Suffolk County Police Department. The dog and handler must then train together for up to six months.
Officer Mele trains with Hudzin once a week and does narcotics training once a month. He can detect marijuana, cocaine, crack, hash, crack-cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and ecstasy.
“It’s all about reading the animal, seeing how he works,” Officer Mele said. “He deters a lot of burglaries and robberies. He’s a big positive impact on patrol at night.”
Photo: Hudzin and Officer Mele after the demonstration on Wednesday morning. (Credit: Rachel Siford)