End of Watch: Sheriff’s First Canine Officer was to Retire Next Month

Pictured Deputy Zaleski and Lida.

(Wampsville, NY – Feb. 2013SONY DSC) Madison County’s first narcotic canine team, known throughout the law enforcement community as unit K9-1, is no longer available. The team, consisting of canine Lida and her handler, Deputy Lance Zaleski, were coming close to the end of their joint efforts with Lida due to retire in March. She was 10 years old.

“Lida was starting to show signs of her age” said Sheriff Allen Riley, “but her nose was as good as the day she started, and her police instincts were as sharp as ever. While she was very intimidating as a police dog, she was a gentle and caring animal and a loyal partner to Deputy Zaleski.”

Onset of a serious health issue gripped the animal recently, and she was on medication and being examined by the Sheriff’s Office veterinarian to address those issues, but her condition deteriorated rapidly last week.

Lida was put to rest Monday, Feb. 18. A German shepherd born in the Czech Republic, Lida possessed an advanced narcotics certification, as well as certifications for tracking and police patrol work, which consisted of building searches, area searches and apprehensions.

Lida and Zaleski maintained their certifications with intense monthly trainings, done in conjunction with other police agency canine teams from Onondaga and Cayuga counties as well, as the Syracuse Police Department.

Since start of duty in 2005, Lida and Zaleski were routinely called upon for not only drug searches, but also building and area searches. Lida searched for suspects, missing or lost children and adults who wandered from their homes.

One of the more notable cases took place when the team assisted the town of DeWitt Police with a vehicle search. Lida’s detection allowed law enforcement to seize nearly eight pounds of marijuana and $50,000 in cash hidden in the vehicle. The team also was involved in numerous cases that over the years have led to the seizure of large amounts of marijuana and narcotics in Madison County.

Lida was also responsible for the apprehension of 10 individuals on various call-outs that involved building searches, mostly residential, but also when three juveniles broke into the Otto Shortell Middle School. The team also performed several community service events at area schools.

Lida spent her years as a police dog side by side with Zaleski and lived with the Zaleski family at their home.

She was buried on Zaleski’s property where she spent most of her life.

The Sheriff’s Office still has an active K9 team in place. Deputy Shawn Burbidge and his partner, Kota, are a certified explosive detection canine team also certified in tracking and police patrol. The team started duty early in 2012.

“Having an invaluable resource such as a narcotic detection canine team in this county to assist in our efforts with the ongoing battle of illegal drugs in our communities is essential,” Riley said.

The sheriff will be working with the Madison County Board of Supervisors to obtain funding for the replacement of a narcotic canine team.

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