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The wet nose of the law

Deputy Nio and his partner Officer Kevin Lancto of the Saratoga County Sheriff's K9 Unit take down a bad guy (Officer Mike Traylor).

Deputy Nio and his partner Officer Kevin Lancto of the Saratoga County Sheriff's K9 Unit take down a bad guy (Officer Mike Traylor). Photo by Julie Cushine-Rigg.

— “It’s an elite part of the Sheriff’s Office,” said Lancto.

Nio’s specialty lies in explosives. He’s named after Ryan Bonaminio, another police officer who served with Lancto for 14 months in Iraq. Bonaminio was killed in the line of duty in Riverside, Calif., in 2010. Like all officer/canine teams, Nio lives with Lancto and his family.

“He knows that when that badge goes on, it’s time to work and he’s all business,” said Lancto. “When he’s home, he’s just great with the family and people.”

“It’s definitely a huge commitment and a change of lifestyle,” he added.

Like their human counterparts, the dogs are always on duty and work eight-hour shifts. Kelley said that day and midnight shifts will usually have three dogs on patrol, while shifts running from 4 p.m. to midnight may have four dogs. They typically assist in vehicle stops, burglaries, building searches and missing person cases, to name but a few.

In a burglary scenario, Kelley said, “A dog is deployed when a person is seen running from the area. You introduce the dog to the area and he should pick up the scent, or if it’s an unknown scent you do what we call an interdicting track.”

Forming an interdicting track is like taking an area and dividing it like a pie. The dog then crosses the area, covering it back and forth.

“When the dog picks up the scent he’ll put his head down and officer knows he’s picked itup,” he said.

Success for finding missing persons depends on the weather and how long somebody has been missing. Kelley explained that if it’s a dry day, the scent doesn’t hold. On a day with snow or dew present, the odds are better.

On a recent training day, officers met up near the county jail outside of Ballston Spa to simulate a routine traffic stop. Lancto donned a protective sleeve and played the bad guy, fleeing when Officer David Petrie pulled him over.

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