January 12, 2014

Working like a dog

PLATTSBURGH — Trooper Matt Ross says he has the best job in the New York State Police.

Ross, who works out of the State Police barracks in Plattsburgh, is a certified canine handler and his dog rides along with him in his marked SUV for each 12-hour patrol.


Kelley recently worked her last day as a State Police canine.

Ross will keep her in his family for her whole life, as every State Police handler does.

“I’m excited to have a new dog ... but it’s kind of sad because I really trust Kelley.”

His new canine, Buck, a 14-month-old German shepherd, has been living with Ross for about three months.

“We don’t know each other as well.”

It takes awhile for a handler to build trust with a canine, Ross said.

And since he isn’t fully trained, he isn’t allowed into Ross’s home yet and spends much of his time when he isn’t out for walks in a large kennel Ross built for him in his garage.

Ross is an animal lover with two other dogs, a Weimaraner and a mixed breed.


Most of Ross’s shifts usually consist of routine traffic stops.

His canine sits in the back seat of the Chevy Tahoe in an area designed for it.

Anyone Ross arrests will sit next to his dog with a transparent, hard plastic wall separating them.

One day, on a recent week, he pulled over three cars for tinted windows and one for a loud exhaust.

He found two empty beer cans on the floor of a red truck with three underage locals inside. It wasn’t enough to write a ticket, though, he said.

And Ross often doesn’t ticket those he pulls over, he said.

He’s looking for something different than the average trooper who writes tickets for things like speeding, faulty headlights or illegal use of an electronic device.

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