The Thumbs Up Community Integration program hosted a visit from K9 Hans and his handler Deputy Nicco Sandelin on Monday to share in the services and role offered by the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit.

The clients of the Thumbs Up program had initially requested the visit, said Tuolumne County PIO Andrea Benson. During their time at its Sonora office, Hans and Sandelin took photos with program members while also explaining who else is involved in the Sheriff’s K9 program and their daily role on the job.

“The deputy introduced K9 Hans to them, and they got to spend some time with Hans and wanted to take pictures,” said Benson.

The Thumbs Up organization is a group that offers education and support to members of the community with developmental disabilities.

“They participate in a variety of community service projects that promote integration through participation such as assisting those with disabilities with moving, sign language services, yard crews, and volunteering at businesses like the Humane Society,” a Tuolumne County Sheriff news release said.

Thumbs Up members were offered a tour of a patrol car and explained how Hans is transported in the vehicle. Sandelin also gave an example of how Hans is deployed when the Sheriff’s Office needs assistance in certain situations.

The members also requested a description of Hans’ most recent exploit, his apprehension of a Murphys man, Wesley Murray, 34, on Quail Mine Road.

Hans was deployed Sunday morning when the man fled from a stolen vehicle during contact with law enforcement.

During the presentation, Sandelin explained that the K9s are “partners to the deputies and have a job to do and can be very focused,” but also “can be very friendly and meet with the community,” Benson said.

About eight Thumbs Up participants spent time with Hans and Sandelin, Benson said, posing for individual and group photographs both by the patrol vehicle and inside the building.

Hans, like the other K9s at the Sheriff’s Office, is taken home his handler on a daily basis. Over the course of life and work, the canine and human deputies develop a strong bond with each other.

“It was wonderful getting to talk to everyone, and they asked that we come by sometime to have lunch and visit,” Benson said. “It is always beneficial to meet members in our community and build relationships.”

Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at (209) 588-4526 or gricapito@uniondemocrat.com. Follow him on Twitter @gsepinsonora.

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