-- A dog that has spent the past two years acting as a crossing guard for the Jersey Shore Area School District in Pennsylvania has been "fired," according to local media reports.
Though residents and students have credited Patches with helping keep kids safe, the superintendent of the school district told ABC affiliate WNEP that Patches has been removed for safety reasons.
"We have clear policies in the school district regarding any type of animal during the work day," Superintendent Dorothy Chappel said in a statement to WNEP. "Yes, he is a cute, adorable pet. ... The bottom line: There are always unanticipated risks with an animal. Any known distraction needs to be removed."
Crossing guard Brad Curtis previously told ABC News that Patches, who used to don a highlighter-colored vest and a mini stop sign, helped cars slow down by his presence alone.
"A lot of people know he's there in the afternoon, and they get a kick out of seeing him," he said. "They pay more attention. They slow down. He's really helped keep down the speed of traffic in the particular intersection."
He added that Patches was never a problem and followed him at his heel.
"I didn't really train him to do this," he said. "He just started doing it on his own. He follows my every movement, and his eyes are totally focused on my feet. There's no voice command, and I don't have treats. He just follows me when I stop and go. It's amazing."
But Jersey Shore Area School District officials told WNEP they believe Patches could be a distraction, and thus, a safety hazard. The school district added that its employees who monitor the crosswalks didn't know about the pooch until local media reports put a spotlight on the pint-sized crossing guard. No one had ever reported the dog to the school.
"Patches is missing," resident Amy Wampler told WNEP. "We didn't see him this morning and we wondered why, and now he's not here."
Another resident, Lyra Clark, said she always used to see the cute Malti-Poo from her shop, Country Beary Shack.
"People come by, even take pictures of him," she said previously. "He's been on the news. Everybody likes him. He's a really nice dog."
Though Patches may not be welcome on the crosswalk, Clark said he's always welcome at the parking lot of her store.
Curtis told WNEP that he plans to continue working as a crossing guard even without Patches.