Police in the town of Gates have sworn in their newest colleague.
Officer Sonny placed his paw atop a box of treats as Gates Supervisor Cosmo Giunta recited his oath Monday morning.
Gates Police Chief James Van Brederode said the town had been without a police dog since 1980. Sonny will be a key tool in the fight against illegal opioids, the chief said, noting that freight distribution sites and Gates’ position in the geographic center of Monroe County make it a hot spot for drug trafficking.
Sonny’s handler, Officer Matthew Miller, said he’s been living and bonding with the dog since October. They commute to work together every day, Miller said. “He’s got quite a nose. He’s pretty impressive to watch when we’re doing exercises.”
Miller said Sonny’s presence will be a deterrent to drug trafficking, and he believes Sonny will excel during traffic stops.
“It’ll make people think twice driving through Gates,” he said. “Somebody’s gotta transport that drug somewhere, everywhere. And that’s what we’ll exploit. We’ll exploit the weak link, which is the cars.”
Sonny will be available to respond to calls in Gates and surrounding jurisdictions, Van Brederode said.
Rochester-based Wegmans grocery chain and Buffalo-made Milk-Bone donated the funds that allowed the police to afford Sonny, Van Brederode said. Country Max, Chili Animal Care and Crime Stoppers are also contributing to the cost of veterinary visits and other health care.
Sonny was born in the Netherlands in January 2017 and was trained in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, before arriving in Gates.
The training worked, Miller said. “As soon as he’s out of the car, he’s pulling on that leash, and he wants to put his nose to work.”