‘Good dog’ Boyle SRO has four-legged partner

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews
Boyle County School Resource Officer Ricky Sellers has a new partner, K9 Petey, the fourth dog to join the Boyle County Sheriff’s Office. Sellers said he believes they are one of the few SRO programs with a K9.

The newest member of the Boyle County Sheriff’s Office is working in local schools and comes covered in fur and equipped with a tail. Petey, a four-year-old German shepherd, is now joining Boyle County School Resource Officer Ricky Sellers as he monitors the Boyle County Schools.

“He just fits right in with the kids. They all love him,” said Sellers, who is starting his second year as the SRO. “Some of the kids, I have no idea who they are, they just come up to pet the dog. He’s a good icebreaker.”

That was the idea, said Sheriff Derek Robbins.

“I thought that using him in the schools would be a way to catch kids early. We can also have some programs in the schools for younger kids,” he said. “It’s a deterrent for the kids in high school. Petey’s been a hit so far. It’s creating a positive relationship with us and the kids — that’s important. They feel comfortable talking to us now. It’s a win-win all the way around.”

Petey was returned to Southern Coast K9 by Danville Police Department because it is not continuing its K9 program. The dog’s first handler gave him up because of the amount of time required for the position, Chief Tony Gray said. The second K9 handler went to the Kentucky State Police. 

Gray said no other officers were interested in taking on the role, as it is a big responsibility. He believes that dog cost the city around $10,000 when he was purchased in 2015.

“(Southern Coast K9) asked if we would be interested,” Robbins said, and explained the kennel said it could not sell a returned dog and it was willing to give it to the Boyle County Sheriff’s Office.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Petey gets attention from students during class change at the Boyle County High School.

He talked to Sellers, who said he was a little apprehensive at first. A former K9 handler for about four years in the Danville Police Department, Sellers, who has been with Boyle County for two years, said he had thought he was finished being a K9 handler, but “I love dogs, so I thought I’d give this a shot.” 

“It’s been a really good fit. He’s a good fit with my family and a good fit for the schools,” Sellers said. “He’s a really personable dog, really sociable … (Petey) loves being loved on by kids.”

Sellers said Petey had even “meshed” well with his own two dogs. Besides acting as a deterrent, which they anticipated, Petey also works almost as a therapy dog and an icebreaker for students, Sellers said.

“It gets people I don’t actually know to come talk to me. I told some people, ‘If you have a bad day, come to my office, you can pet Petey, it makes things better,’” he said.

Together, the two walk the halls of each of the Boyle County Schools and check the parking lots.

“Everywhere I go, he goes,” Sellers said.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Petey gets attention from students during class change at the Boyle County High School.

Sellers keeps the door to his office — next to the cafeteria in the Boyle County High School— open, so he’s installed a baby gate to reduce any risk of Petey wandering out. Students will stop on their way down the hall, now, to pet Petey, who loves the attention. The dog also has his own kennel in the office, just in case Sellers has to attend to something elsewhere in the school. But, pretty much, they go everywhere together.

He also takes him out back of the school to get exercise every day. The staff at the schools love his four-legged partner, too, Sellers said. He takes him to sporting events sometimes, with plans to bring him to more.

“Petey’s a little bit of a distraction to the players, but they all love him,” Sellers said.

His new partner makes the Boyle County Sheriff’s Department one of the few that has a school resource officer with a dedicated K9 in the school system, Sellers said.

Kendra Peek/kendra.peek@amnews.com
Boyle County High School Principal Mark Wade pets K9 Petey during class change at the school, while Boyle County School Resource Officer Ricky Sellers looks on.

To get a dog like Petey outright, Sheriff Derek Robbins said, it would now cost more than $11,000.

The department has three other K9s: Aja and NiKi, both single-purpose narcotics dogs, and Djanco, a dual-purpose narcotics and tracking apprehension dog.

Petey is trained in narcotics and passive tracking — he would be used more for lost individuals than for tracking of criminals, Robbins said, as he might not be as prepared to face someone interested in doing him harm.

So far, none of the kids have been scared of Petey, although a few of the younger students are a little shy, Sellers said.

“People ask me, ‘Does he bite?’ I tell them, he’s a dog. All dogs may bite,” he said.

The two went to Woodlawn the other day, to introduce Petey to the first grade students. “They loved him,” he said and smiled. “Petey’s a good dog.”

Sellers also uses Petey to teach kids how to act around dogs.“I always tell the kids, ‘Make sure you ask someone before you pet their dog, whether it’s a police dog or a citizen,’” he said.

The duo are going to visit Jennie Rogers Elementary next month, too, to do a demo.

“I am looking forward to going to the Danville Schools and sharing Petey with them, showing what he can do,” Sellers said. “I try to work with all the schools; just because I’m in Boyle County doesn’t mean I don’t help other schools.”