The city Police Department is preparing to retire its K-9 Ammo and is gathering the community’s support to purchase a new police dog.
Based on his age and his condition, the department wants Ammo to retire before he gets hurt. The 8-year-old German Shepherd has begun to show his age.
“He’s slower and shows more fatigue,” Sgt. Carl Rust said.
The Police Department has never asked the city for the money to purchase a police dog. The city does pay for the maintenance of the dog, including its food, vet bills and training costs, however Rust said he prefers to get the community’s support behind the purchase of a new dog. After all, they are the public’s dogs, he said. “Their job is to protect and serve.”
The department has begun to sell T-shirts to raise money to purchase a new dog, which cost upwards of $6,000. The $10 T-shirts have the department’s logo on the front and a list of each K-9 past and present the department has ever owned written on a scroll with the words “Forever Loyal.”
The dogs are an integral part of the department. Ammo is handled by officer Kirk Walters, who said as recently as Friday night, Ammo helped him catch a suspicious man walking along Elizabeth Street wearing a ski mask and no shirt and holding a large hunting knife.
The man fled into a wooded area where he took off his mask and dropped the knife. Ammo was able to both flush out the man and locate the mask and knife.
“Who knows what could have happened if we hadn’t caught the guy,” Rust said. “We stopped whatever he intended to do that night.”
The dogs are constantly with their handler. They serve as the officer’s partner and work roughly 40 hours a week. The department has two dogs — Ammo and Hyde, a 3-year-old German shepherd the department purchased in 2007 with drug seizure money.
Walters said when he into the shower, Ammo starts to get excited. Then when he gets dressed in his uniform, Ammo starts turning in circles in anticipation.
“It’s going to be bittersweet,” Walters said about Ammo’s retirement, “but I want him to enjoy his retirement and I can see that he’s getting slower and it’s harder for him to jump and things.”
Ammo will live with Walters as a family pet after his retirement. Walters is hoping to be the new dog’s handler, as well, but that decision is up to the police chief.
The dogs are about a year old when the department receives them. The dog and handler participate in a 10-week training course to get the dog ready to patrol the streets and an additional five weeks for drug training.
The T-shirt campaign has already been successful. Rust said he was able to sell 200 shirts in the last four days.
Anyone wishing to purchase a T-shirt can contact Rust at 843-4525, ext. 128.