Rosko and his handler Jason Yasso could get another year of partnership thanks to the generosity of two donors.
Village of Geneseo
Donors help village retain police dog
Last week’s story on the elimination of police dog Rosko in the upcoming 2012-13 Village of Geneseo budget triggered an avalanche of media coverage and emotional online responses from persons who felt the police canine program should be retained. Many in Livingston County and beyond did not want to see Rosko sold by the village and separated from his handler, Officer Jason Yasso.
Since then, the village has received two checks from contributors hoping to restore the approximately $5,000 budget line which supports Rosko’s presence on the police force. One check, for $4,500, is from Rush Inter Pet Inc., a (non-veterinary) pet care services company located in Rush, NY, signed by Holly Hanna. The second check is for $200 from village resident William Lewis. Village office staff said they were expecting yet a third contribution, from the Humane Society, by way of Lollipop Farm.
On Monday the village office received an envelope containing crayon-illustrated letters from York Central School second graders, each asking Mayor Richard Hatheway to keep Rosko as a member of the police force.
Geneseo Police Chief Eric Osganian advised that the recent monetary contributions will likely cover the fixed costs associated with the police canine program — and be adequate to return Rosko to the force for another year. These costs include $3,000 Officer Yasso receives in annual wages for his extra handling duties, veterinarian bills, food and boarding (for the time Yasso is on vacation). There is also a cost for Rosko’s refresher training, two days each month.
However, the police department also owns and operates an added squad car exclusively for transportation of Rosko. A complete tally of expenses related to Rosko’s services must include funds for operating, maintaining and replacing this vehicle, above and beyond the more immediate $5,000 overhead.
“The ‘Police K-9’ car is a specially equipped 2008 model with about 40,000 miles. Osganian hopes the vehicle’s lifetime can correspond with the balance of Rosko’s career on the force.
“It will be off warranty, so if it needs a new transmission or something else which is expensive, it could be a problem,” Osganian said.
Besides the vehicle, there are other “incidental costs” related to Rosko: mileage for the vehicle, and added shift costs while Officer Yasso is off regular duty and working on a canine case.
Referring to these accruing costs, Osganian commented, “The bigger question will now be what to do three or four years into the future, if the dog is still here.”
“It appears there is certainly some sympathy for maintaining the program,” Mayor Hatheway said on Monday, noting that most people seemed not so much concerned about the canine program as they were about the disposition of the dog.
Livingston County Sheriff John York reported that canines in his department, upon reaching retirement, are declared surplus and given to their handler/master, who has kept the canine at home as a pet during its service life.
However, retired canines have negligible value at the end of their service life. Rosko, on the other hand, at age five, has an estimated 3-to-5 good years of service ahead of him.
“It wasn’t the route we anticipated going but we have accomplished the objective we wanted, which was to take an expense away from the taxpayers,” Hatheway added.
With the issue of Rosko’s immediate cost apparently resolved, Hatheway believes a question yet persists: ‘Does a small 7-or-8 member police department really make good use of a dog?’
The Geneseo Village Board will be discussing the police canine program at its next meeting, on May 7.