Doña Ana County



Sandoval County Sheriff John Paul Trujillo will deliver three puppies -- each named Kasey -- at Noon Friday to the Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department for the 'Kasey Says' reading, attendance and safety program.

The ceremony will take place at 750 Motel Blvd., Suite A, in Las Cruces.

Doña Ana County is the second county in the state to begin the 'Kasey Says' program, after Sandoval County, where the program was. Three Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department school resource officers will be paired with dogs to begin training and schedule visits to schools.

Community Policing Division supervisor Marty Dudley said there are school resource officers in the northern and southern areas of the county, with Dudley covering the Las Cruces area. Each Kasey will travel with its respective handler to area schools.

'Kasey Says' co-creator and state coordinator Vanessa Johnston demonstrated handling and some of the curriculum to school resource officers last Wednesday.

"You soften your image enough [with the dog] for the child to trust you, and you're able to get your message out," Johnston said.

"We're really excited to help Doña Ana County get the program going," Johnston said. Sheriff [Juan] Hernandez is very progressive and innovative. He clearly sees the important role law enforcement can play in education."

For grades kindergarten through fourth, 'Kasey Says' is primarily directed toward good effort in attendance, behavior and reading, Johnston said. Depending on class size, a teacher may choose five to ten students to spend time with and read to Kasey. These students' selection depends on their behavior.

For fourth grade and above, Johnston said, greater emphasis is put on teaching safety, the repercussions of truancy and the dangers of drug use.

"Animals are proven to enhance therapeutic and rehabilitative environments," Johnston said. "Truancy at our pilot schools has almost disappeared and there are almost no reportable offenses. There were so many success stories in Sandoval County sent to Gov. Richardson, he decided it needed to be taken statewide."

For more information, call Grant A. Taylor, assistant to the director of public information, at (505) 647-7290. Anyone calling from outside the Las Cruces area may call toll-free at 1-877-827-7200 and request extension 7290.