Nacogdoches drug dog reunites with handler

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches drug dog is reunited with his handler after a whirlwind week of transfers and purchases orchestrated by the Nacogdoches County district attorney which has resulted in a new drug dog for the county.

District Attorney Nicole LoStracco said her office has purchased Rhictor from the Nacogdoches Police Department for $15,000 and she has asked Rhictor's former handler, Stephen Godfrey, to care for the dog until she has transferred ownership to the Pct. 4 constable's office.

LoStracco said once incoming constable David Stone takes office, he will transfer ownership of Rhictor to outgoing constable and incoming sheriff, Jason Bridges.

LoStracco said all this is taking place with the understanding that Godfrey will always be Rhictor's handler.

NPD will use the $15,000 to purchase a new dog, which should be at the department by the end of the month with a new handler.

LoStracco said this began last week after Godfrey resigned from NPD. Police could not sell Rhictor, who has lived with Godfrey since 2009, because he was not ready to retire and could only be sold to another law-enforcement agency.

LoStracco said she called Chief Jim Sevey and asked him if they could work something out to keep Rhictor with Godfrey.

"He and Stephen Godfrey were an excellent team and I hated to see the ownership broken up," she said. "Chief Sevey moved Heaven and Earth to make this happen."

"I wished him good luck, and there's no reason to think that Rhictor would be any less successful no matter where he goes. He's a good dog. He's got a good nose," said Sevey.

LoStracco credited Sevey with working fast to see if their client had another dog ready. When he found out they did, he called LoStracco back and the wheels were in motion.

"This is probably a more advantageous situation for everybody," said Sevey.

LoStracco said she will be giving Rhictor to the constable's office at no charge and there will be no reimbursement. But she sees the move as an investment.

"I admit it's easy to get caught up in the emotions of Stephen losing Rhictor, but I could not spend this much money on emotions alone," LoStracco said. "Rhictor has more than paid for himself since he's come here and now we have two dogs patrolling the area."

LoStracco explained the county makes money from property and cash seized in the drug stops.

"The big advantage is that there will be two dogs working in Nacogdoches County now," said Sevey.

Bridges could not discuss plans for Godfrey to work with the sheriff's office. However, Bridges says he will appoint Godfrey as a reserve deputy constable in the coming weeks. Bridges says the dog will join the sheriff's office next year.

"Rhictor will be at the sheriff's office. We look forward to starting a K-9 unit within the sheriff's office," said Bridges.

Three officers applied for Godfrey's old position with the NPD K-9 unit. Patrol Officer Brian Eggebrecht will take over those duties next week.

These officers were all equal in capability, high quality, good performers. But, Brian, throughout his career has shown a little extra in the area of being able to relate to the community," said Sevey.

NPD already selected a new dog, which should be arrive from California in the next two weeks. Eggebrecht and the two-year-old German Shepherd will then receive formal training together.

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