By Brian Knox | Wise County Messenger
The Wise County Sheriff’s Office is moving forward with plans to bring in another K-9 following the disappearance of Rayco last October.
Rayco’s handler, Sgt. J.T. Manoushagian, said the sheriff’s office is working with a vendor in Wisconsin to find a new K-9 officer for the Specialized Enforcement Division (SED).
“Once everything lines up and we are ready to go, it’s two months or so to get the dog trained and on the streets,” he said.
While no timeline is available for when the new dog would begin work, Sheriff Lane Akin said he hoped it would be the early part of this year.
The dog is being purchased with donations, not taxpayer money, Akin said.
“That’s the way our unit is, as it stands right now – no taxpayer money has been spent on the dogs themselves since we began,” Manoushagian said.
Rayco had been with the department since May of 2015 and had been used for narcotics detection and apprehension.
Manoushagian said a sudden microburst wind apparently caught Rayco’s kennel and sent it flying about 30 to 35 yards away into a field during the early morning hours of Oct. 22. Despite an intense search of the area, Rayco was never seen again.
“Nobody can predict it; it was just one of those things,” he said. “The wind caught the kennel just right, lifted it up and took it out in the field.”
He explained that while handlers have both outside kennels and smaller kennels that allow the dogs to be brought into the house, the weather forecast of brief storms didn’t meet the criteria for bringing Rayco inside the house that evening.
“These are high drive, intense working dogs. They aren’t pets,” Manoushagian said. “In fact, Rayco, you couldn’t even put a blanket in his kennel without him shredding it completely. So they don’t just hang out in there and relax. They’re still wanting to work.”
Since that night, additional measures have been put in place to hopefully avoid a similar situation in the future.
Even though the kennels are several hundred pounds, all of the kennels are now being anchored.
Manoushagian said they’ve received a donation of GPS collars, but the dogs usually don’t wear the collars in the kennels for safety reasons.
“We’ll look to see if that makes sense to have on the dogs in the kennel. We really don’t like having collars on the dog when they are in the kennel, because if it gets hung up they can strangle themselves, but we’ll explore all options,” he said.
In addition to the two other K-9 officers at the sheriff’s office, the SED has partnered with other local agencies who have recently added K-9 resources, including police departments in Boyd, Bridgeport and Decatur as well as the Montague County Sheriff’s Office.
Once the new K-9 begins working at the sheriff’s office, Akin said his office will continue working closely with other local law enforcement agencies and their K-9 officers.
“I’m pretty excited about this opportunity to work together,” he said. “It’s something that’s been really important to me when I came in as sheriff, that all of us in the agencies in Wise County and surrounding areas get along because we can accomplish so much more when we work together rather than when we isolate ourselves and not recognize the importance of the people who are wearing the different colored uniform, because we all wear the badge that represents the same thing.”