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Yates County Dedicates New K9 Memorial


A memorial now stands at the Yates County Public Safety Building in Penn Yan that pays tribute to the K9 officers who have served in the Yates County Sheriff’s Office.

The granite memorial came from a quarry in Barre, Vermont, and was donated by Jack Nielsen of Nielsen Granite in Penn Yan.  Nielsen Granite professional artist Melissa McMinn etched an image of K9 Kinni along with the Yates County Sheriff’s Office emblem on the front of the memorial, while the names of the 15 deceased canines that served the sheriff’s office since 1983 are etched on the back.  The names include Mike, Eudine, Bear, Clyde, Orry, Abe, Jim, Grecco, Eros, Hasko, Blacky, Wasko, Siro, Argo, and Kinni.

Sheriff Ron Spike thanked the Penn Yan Lions Club for being a major sponsor of the project and noted its emblem was also placed on the back of the memorial.

After an opening prayer by Jail Chaplin Ken Sisson, the current Yates County Sheriff’s Office canine units were introduced:  Deputy Sheriff Seth Skelley and Magnum along with Deputy Sheriff Chad Betts and K9 Rafi.  Yates County Legislature Chairwoman Leslie Church read a resolution recognizing the role the K9s and their handlers have had for public safety in Yates County.

Deputy Brandon Jensen and Lt. Francis Ryan unveiled the memorial before Undersheriff Howard Dennis and Jensen read the names of the canines whose service will now always be remembered. The recognition was then followed by a moment of silence and then the playing of “Taps” by Jeffrey Stempien.

Following remarks by Sheriff Spike, former Sheriff Jan Scofield spoke about starting the canine unit in the county in the early 80s. Scofield said there was a lot of “trial and error” with training early on but added he is very proud the sheriff’s department still utilizes the specialty service they provide to law enforcement.  Former Penn Yan Police Chief and Lions Club member Raymond Stewart also spoke about the early inception of the canines into local law enforcement and added the Lions Club has always been a big supporter of the program since day one.

Also in attendance on Wednesday were a number of canines and their handlers from different law enforcement agencies from throughout the state.  This week,  Yates County is again hosting the New York State Sheriff’s Institute’s Annual K9 training week.

Deputy Jensen spoke of the special bond that a handler has with their canine partner.  Jensen’s partner of more than 11 years, K-9 Kinni, whose image is etched on the memorial, passed away due to a sudden illness in August. Kinni was 13 years old and died during an operation in an attempt to save his life.

Please enjoy photos from Wednesday night’s dedication below:

All photos: Lucas Day, Finger Lakes Daily News

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