BY STACI WILSON
Susquehanna County said good-bye to the sheriff department’s K-9 deputy, Cash, at a memorial service held Thursday evening in the courthouse.
Born Oct. 1, 2006, the black, German Shepherd known as “Cash” died Nov. 15, 2013.
“He was an important member of the law enforcement community,” District Attorney Jason Legg said.
Testament to that was the number of local law enforcement members attending the service – including other police dog handlers that work in the region.
At the tribute, Sheriff Lance Benedict said he hoped to continue the canine program in the county. But Thursday, was really all about Cash.
He spoke of the commitment to training given Cash by handlers Jay McGivern and Michelle Hillard.
When McGivern left the sheriff’s office, Deputy Hillard stepped up to take over as Cash’s handler – a process trainer Alan Finn said he had not done before.
The transition to a new handler worked for Cash.
Legg said, “That’s a testament to Michelle’s character and how much she loved him.”
Benedict also spoke of the way the community embraced the county canine.
As a Blue Ridge fifth grader, Shania Yachymiak began “Pennies for Cash,” a fundraising effort to purchase a bullet-proof vest for the working dog.
Now a high school senior, Yachymiak attended the memorial service.
Cash was welcomed into all six of the school districts in the county. “The students loved him,” Legg said.
And, he added, upon learning of his death, all area superintendents urged the county to continue Cash’s legacy.
The district attorney also noted some of the highlights of Cash’s career, including a “hit” on a vehicle where police found 125 grams of cocaine when the K-9 was still a puppy.
“He was working before he was a year old,” Legg said.
He also noted some of the other significant drugs found by Cash – including 195 bags of heroin and 50 pounds of marijuana; and large drug money finds of $15,000 and one of $125,000.
But Cash was not just a drug dog – he was also utilized by the sheriff’s office to help locate missing persons on a number of occasions during his time working with the county.
Legg thanked Cash’s veterinarian, Dr. Bob Sullivan, who volunteered veterinary care as a community service. “He helped make sure he was taken care,” Legg said. “Especially at the end, that was very difficult.”