Dates of Service: 1996 - 2002
After leaving the United States Army Military Police Corp, Hank Sheldon joined the Otsego County Sheriff's Office in 1984. In the spring of 1996 the Sheriffs Office obtained an almost 2 year old untrained German Shepard named Pete. Pete was assigned to Deputy Sheldon, living with him, his wife Colleen and sons Eric, Ryan & Scott. The two became certified as a New York State Police K9 Team by the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services under the guidance of the Southern Tier Police K9 Association in Binghamton, NY. Both handler and K9 had to meet state requirements in tracking, handler protection, building search, apprehension, obedience and article search. The team continued to re-certify as mandated every year thereafter. While Pete continued to re-certify in all areas, he displayed real talent in tracking and it became his focus and recognized specialty. Deputy Sheldon & Pete assisted every police agency in Otsego County and assisted many others outside Otsego County to include; City of Binghamton PD, Broome County Sheriff, Delaware County Sheriff, Sidney PD, Schoharie County Sheriff, Chenango County Sheriff, as well as the New York State Police in various locations.
Deputy Sheldon & K9 Pete were recruited to assist in the 9/11 aftermath. Two weeks prior to leaving for New York City the detail was discontinued for K9's, as many were getting injured in the rubble, but both were honored to have been asked to assist.
The K9 team was proud to say they had done presentations at every school in Otsego County with Pete attending every D.A.R.E. class with Deputy Sheldon. Deputy Sheldon & K9 Pete regularly gave K9 presentations to various civic groups and clubs throughout Otsego County. Deputy Sheldon and K9 Pete, along with other K9 units with the Southern Tier Police K9 Association, regularly provided schools in Otsego County and elsewhere around New York State with contraband searches of lockers. These searches at various times located drugs both legal and illegal as well as items of contraband helping to keep our schools safer and drug free.
In 1998 the K9 team along with Deputy Rich Devlin (now Sheriff Devlin) were dispatched to the Otsego County Correctional Facility where an inmate broke out a television screen and armed herself with two 8" shards of glass. The inmate would attempt to stab officers every time they would attempt to subdue her. Upon arrival Deputies Sheldon and Devlin attempted to talk her into putting down her weapons. When that did not work both Deputies and K9 Pete entered the cell area and confronted the inmate who immediately charged the deputies. K9 Pete without command instantly reacted as he had been trained and engaged the inmate bringing her to her knees and stopping her advancement on the deputies. Pete was instantly disengaged by Deputy Sheldon. The inmate was immediately sprayed with pepper gas by Deputy Devlin and subdued, disarmed and arrested with no officers or K9 Pete being injured.
In the summer of 1999 a toddler went missing from his back yard in the Town of Otego. Deputy Sheldon & K9 Pete were dispatched from the Cherry Valley area to assist other police and fire department personnel in attempting to locate the child. After arriving at the scene Deputy Sheldon was given information that the team was going to try to find a 2 ½ year old toddler who had wandered away from his backyard. A track was established and the team headed out from the back yard, across the yard up into a large wooded area that covered a large uphill area. Almost a mile later the child was located sitting under a tree. The child was returned to the mother uninjured.
In April of 2000 the state police in Richfield Springs contacted the K9 team to request their assistance at the scene of a burglary at Klems Liquor Store on Main St., Richfield Springs, NY. Approximately a thousand dollars worth of liquor and wine had been stolen after thieves smashed out a side door overnight. When the team arrived a track was established that led across the parking lot between Klems and the Stewarts Shop, across Rt.-20, into and across the park into a pavilion where some of the stolen liquor had been hidden under a tarp. The track then continued through the park, across several lawns and into a wooded area where more of the liquor was recovered. The track continued across a couple of streets where a small airplane size bottle was located in the grass of an unmowed lawn. The track continued up the street where Pete made a hard left turn went across the street up a sidewalk and all but rang the doorbell of the home where three highly intoxicated suspects were found. While interviews of the suspects were being conducted Pete “hit” on a culvert pipe at the end of the driveway indicating that there was something underground. One of the stolen liquor bottles had been hidden inside the culvert pipe where it was secured and later used as evidence to convict all three suspects. All but the liquor that had been consumed was recovered and returned to the store owner. It was later learned that the burglary had taken place 7 ½ hours earlier on a hot summer night, which drew recognition from police and k9 trainers through out New York State.
In 2001 Deputy Sheldon was contacted by the State Police in Oneonta to assist them tracking a subject who had run from them in the Portlandville, NY area. As the trooper went in the front door of the residence the suspect, a convicted rapist wanted on a parole violation, ran out the back door. The K9 team established a track that went over a mile and culminated with the apprehension of the suspect at the back of Whitemans lumber yard where he was taken into custody, without incident, and turned over to the state police.