Working like a dog

On Wednesday, a New York State Police K-9 demonstration was scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Arthur Maytum Family Theater. Those who came were disappointed.

Police dog Kubi (pronounced Cubby) and his handler Trooper Jason Cresanti were answering a call, so that demonstration was canceled.

However, except for Sunday, there are several demonstrations done each day. Check the white board at the entrance to Floral Hall or ask the troopers who have an informational booth on the side of Floral Hall across from the fair office.

The K-9 demonstration is family friendly, entertaining and educational. It is interesting enough to capture the attention of children, but short enough for their attention spans.

Cresanti gives an overview of the K-9 division and its methods, brings Kubi out to do a drug search, then comes back to answer questions.

Kubi is named for deceased Trooper Gary Kubasiak, who worked out of the Collins barracks and was himself a dog handler. Trooper Kubasiak was killed in the line of duty in 1982. This is Cresanti’s second dog. His first, Garro, was also named after Kubasiak.

Cresanti explained, “The dogs are all named after fallen troopers. This is to show the troopers are not forgotten and we keep them in our hearts.”

The New York State Police created the Canine Unit in 1975. They purchased three dogs from the United States Army for $10,000. The dogs were trained to detect explosives, and they were solely used for that purpose in preparation for the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid.

According to Cresanti, today the state police have 77 handlers. One dog is paired with each handler. Now dogs are donated by private individuals, breeders or Humane Societies. The animals are carefully screened. German Shepherds are commonly used because they are a “good all around dog.” Kubi is a 15-month-old German Shepherd who has some Dutch Shepherd in her lines.

Cresanti said, “The dog has to want to play. You can build on that to teach them to find drugs. Kubi doesn’t know she is looking for drugs. For her the reward is her rubber toy.”

The Canine Unit uses the Baltimore method of training which lets the dog be sociable and live with its handler. Kubi lives with Cresanti, his wife, and their children. Garro is now retired and still lives with him and his family.

In 2000, philanthropist Jane Forbes Clark and the Clark foundation provided the Canine Unit with a permanent training facility in Cooperstown. The facility is also open to other law enforcement agencies within New York state.

He said, “Dogs are trained to detect either explosives or narcotics. The way Kubi shows me where drugs are is by scratching and biting. Think what would happen if the dog acted that way with explosives. … It would be expensive to keep training new dogs.”

Cresanti set up three different plastic containers some distance apart in the performance. One container held a “pseudo drug” which has the same scent as an illegal substance.

He said, “I don’t bring in real drugs. God forbid I forget them.”

Cresanti brought an energetic and eager Kubi onto the scene. Kubi went from one container to another and easily picked the correct one. Immediately she was praised and given her yellow rubber toy. Then she was taken back to the police car, which specifies it holds a K-9.

In addition to narcotics, Kubi can track human scent, detain a person, and look for cadavers. Cresanti showed the equipment used for these tasks. Just as Cresanti often wears a bullet-proof vest, Kubi has her own bullet-proof vest. Cresanti and Kubi just came back from Pennsylvania where they were part of a team solving a 14-year-old case.

In addition to the fair, the team gives demonstrations for school children and other groups.

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