‘Our best protector’: Floyd County Sheriff highlights furriest fixtures on force

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Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 7:22 PM EST
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PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - As the people of Floyd County celebrate and bring awareness to animals in need of rescue, the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department is working to highlight the animals who do the rescuing.

Sheriff John Hunt said K-9 officers Drago and Lita are an invaluable part of the department, from their noses for narcotics to their trailing expertise.

“Man’s best friend and obviously he’s our best protector,” said Hunt. “What the human nose couldn’t find, the human eye couldn’t see, a dog is what leads us in that direction.”

Hunt said the dogs, which require constant training and come with a host of responsibilities, are more than worth the sacrifice: doing a job that would be virtually impossible for even the largest human police force, and doing so in record time.

“There’s no way- even if you had eight or ten deputies show up or police or trackers or whatever, probably- to locate what a dog can do,” said Hunt.

He said the community awareness that accompanies the pups is also a positive. He thinks the threat of a K-9 serves as a big deterrent and helps to deescalate certain situations.

“But now, the most important thing is the service it gives to the public,” Hunt said.

Drug seizures and traffic stops are not the only instances when the animals get their collars. At the end of December, K-9 Officer Drago helped deputies find a man who disappeared from the scene of a crash, running into a wooded area nearby.

“This accident was caused by this driver. This driver should not have been on the road. Suspended license, previous DUIs,” said Hunt.

The man was hiding in a ditch, covered by leaves, when Drago found him. That call, Hunt said, is the perfect example of justice being served.

“And now he’s responsible for that accident and was caught strictly just because of the use of deploying a K-9,” he said.

That expertise served Drago well last month when he placed runner-up in a national seminar with the North American Police Work Dog Association. Hunt said Drago and Lita did well, showing they are true assets to the force when paired with their handlers, Deputy Justin Szymchack and Deputy Dusty Newsome.

Hunt said he is proud to have the pups on his team.

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