Sheriff Lew Evangelidis and his K-9 colleague Maya pay a visit to the Shrewsbury Men’s’ Club


By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Sheriff Lew Evangelidis and his K-9 colleague Maya pay a visit to the Shrewsbury Men’s’ Club
Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis (kneeling) with K-9 colleague Maya and her handler, Officer Pete Campos. Photo/Melanie Petrucci

Shrewsbury – Nothing brings a smile to a person’s face quite like a dog. There were a lot of smiles when the Shrewsbury Men’s’ Club received a special guest at their regular weekly meeting at the Shrewsbury Senior Center Sept. 27.

Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis and his K-9 Colleague Maya to speak about a project near and dear to his heart, “Project Good Dog.”

Maya is a bloodhound used in the sheriff’s K-9 unit with three other dogs that have been trained to sniff out narcotics and find missing persons. Maya’s specialty is the latter.

Evangelidis and Maya’s handler, Officer Pete Campos, was welcomed by club member Bill Davis.

“This is an opportunity we get every couple of years where we get invited to the Shrewsbury Men’s Club,” Evangelidis said. “It’s a wonderful active group and every couple of years we come out and give a presentation on what the Sheriff’s office does.

“We are really excited today; we put together a national presentation that was brought forth to a National Correctional Association event held in Chicago last year about how we utilize animals, most significantly dogs for therapeutic value for our inmates and for officers.”

The program was launched in April 2015 when Evangelidis and his team partnered with the Second Chance Shelter, a no-kill shelter located in Brookfield. From Second Chance, the Sheriff’s Office receives four dogs every 12 weeks.

“What does an inmate have that the average person doesn’t have?” asked Evangelidis.

“Time. Time to train these dogs.”

The inmates live with these dogs as they train them. Many have come from traumatic situations and have behavioral issues. At the end of a 12-week cycle, the dogs are ready to be put up for adoption. To date, they have adopted out approximately 62 dogs.

“The inmates benefit from the connection with an animal, they live in their cells with the dogs in the low security area…the officers say the cell block has never been safer so the program has so many benefits. The dogs have changed the entirety of the Sheriff’s Department,” Evangelidis noted.

“There are so many ancillary benefits and the ultimate beauty is that it cost zero dollars and zero cents to have this program because Second Chance trains our inmates, provides all the food and we have a wonderful veterinarian who handles all the veterinarian needs for free as well.”

One of the most significant benefits, Evangelidis pointed out, is significantly reduced stress levels. Anxiety among the inmates is greatly reduced and there is measurable improvement in inmate behavior.

The dogs prepare to be adopted while the inmates learn patience, compassion and responsibility as they prepare to transition back into society. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement, according to Evangelidis.

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