McKean County district attorney Stephanie Vettenburg-Shaffer announces the expansion of services of the McKean County Detectives’ Bureau operating out of the DA’s office with the addition of more canines. The canines assist law enforcement across the county in locating illegal narcotics, explosives and human remains as well as tracking individuals’ movements through scent.
Since 2011, Robert and Vicki Rinfrette and their canines have worked for the District Attorney’s Office and the McKean County Drug Task Force. Robert Rinfrette has been in law enforcement for 43 years — 37 in the K9 field as a handler, trainer, examiner and certifier. He is a certifying official for the National Narcotics Detector Dog Association.
Canine “LG” is a 7-year-old labrador retriever trained and certified for narcotics detection through two national associations. Canine “Nico” is a 2.5-year-old German shepherd imported from Czechoslovakia. She is trained and certified in explosive detection through a national association.
“LG” and “Nico” join the DA’s Office and Drug Task Force at various events across the county, most often geared toward children to teach children to say “no” to drugs. The community may see the dogs at different events and they have participated in Kids’ Fest; Welcome Back events at the Smethport High School; LEAF day events; Fire/EMS Night in Mount Jewett; National Night Out in Kane; and the Black the Blue 5K event at Pitt Bradford.
“LG” has assisted law enforcement in searching for drugs at local schools and prisons. “LG” will be accompanying district attorney Stephanie Vettenburg-Shaffer in the next school year at different events geared toward elementary school children and he and “Nico” will be starring in their own coloring book warning children to stay away from drugs.
New to the DA’s Office in 2019, are dogs trained in search and rescue. Rod Johnson has been training bloodhounds for 19 years and is an instructor for the National Police Bloodhound Association as well as Virginia Bloodhound Search and Rescue. Ruth Webb has been handling bloodhounds for five years and has two bloodhounds. Jay Prosser has been running backup for Rod for 10 years has been a K9 handler for a year. Jerry Prosser runs backup for Johnson, Webb or Prosser.
It takes hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to train a dog. “Reeba” is a trail dog owned by Johnson; “Izzy” is a cadaver and trail dog owned by Prosser; and “Dixie” is a trail dog owned by Webb. They have assisted law enforcement and search and rescue teams in McKean, Center, Elk, Potter, Tioga and Warren counties. They are certified by the American Working Dog and the National Police Bloodhound Association.
Locally, they have found missing persons and tracked an arson suspect in Bradford Township. These K9s have also been joining the district attorney at events in the community including the Resource Fair at Pitt Bradford and the Back the Blue 5K event at Pitt Bradford.
If you would like a K9 at your event or school, call the McKean County district attorney’s office at 887-3312.