She loves kids. She romps around like a big kid herself, ready to bestow a friendly lick, but given an order by her handler, she’ll take your arm off. Sara, the Saugerties Police Department’s newest K-9 officer, is only 14 months old and already weighs 64 pounds.
The department’s Sgt. Michael Craft recently picked up the black-haired German shepherd from a Pennsylvania facility that imports potential police dogs from Eastern Europe. This is Craft’s third K-9 partner.
“I tested five, but Sara stood out,” Craft said. “She’s fierce. A real good solid biting dog.”
He tested Sara and four other dogs at the facility.
“I took her through some basic tests such as searching a room, her bite work, and found her to be the best of the bunch,” Craft said.
Police dogs subdue criminals, detect drugs and assist in search and rescue operations.
“She won’t be used for criminal work alone,” Craft said.
For the next several weeks, Sara and Craft will spend time getting to know each other. She lives with the Craft family and they have already grown attached to Sara. In April, she’ll begin formal police training, learning how to be a patrol dog and a detection dog.
But for now, she’s enjoying just being a big friendly puppy. “Her only interests now,” Craft said, “are her toys and hot dogs.”
Sara is touring local schools to meet the kids, and she was recently taken to the American Legion. The Saugerties Police Department is one of only three law enforcement agencies in Ulster County that uses police dogs. The other two are the Ulster County Sheriff and the Town of Ulster Police Department.