K9 Buddy of the Cedaredge Police Department is looking at retirement.
Buddy has been a member of the local police force since 2006 and has reached the five- to eight-year career that is the norm for police dogs.
Still, Buddy's retirement from the CPD will come a little earlier than expected because of a developing eye ailment that is likely eventually to render Buddy blind, explained Police Chief Robert Yant to the Cedaredge Town Board on June 20.
Buddy is still active, on duty, and fully capable of carrying out his duty assignments, said Sgt. Dan Sanders who partners with Buddy. Buddy's veterinarian is keeping a close watch on the progress of Buddy's disease, called pannus, Sgt. Sanders said.
An Internet authority describes pannus as "chronic superficial keratitis, a disease seen most commonly in the German shepherds, but which occurs in other breeds."
Pannus is a progressive disease that is caused when blood vessels and scar tissue "invade" the cornea of the eye. It results in a black pigmentation of the cornea surface resulting in blindness.
Buddy's disease is progressing more quickly than expected. The original prognosis was for a one- to two-year course before debilitating blindness set in. But, Sgt. Sanders said, Buddy's term of service with the department could be shorter than that if the disease continues to progress at its present rate.
Buddy came to the CPD after the department's first police dog, Jet, died in an accident. There were numerous community fundraisers to help purchase Buddy. A suitable police dog candidate can cost up to $12,000.
Chief Yant noted that Buddy has been a valuable resource to the regional drug task force. His drug sniffing skills are unexcelled. In addition, Buddy is the community relations mascot of the CPD. The gentle and friendly Buddy, weighing in at 90 pounds, is a lovable favorite with local school children when he and Sgt. Sanders perform demonstrations of Buddy's work and job skills.
Buddy is a "dual purpose dog," Sgt. Sanders said. Not only is he expert at finding hidden drug stashes, but he can turn menacing bad guys into harmless kittens with no more than a look. The bad guys know it and they give Cedaredge a wide berth, Sgt. Sanders said.
The department will be in the search for another dog to step into K9 Buddy's paw prints; but Buddy will never be replaced. The department will be fortunate to find another dog with Buddy's unique mix of work ethic and unexcelled social skills that he displays with kids — including Sgt. Sanders's own four- and seven-year-old sons who have grown up with Buddy as a family member.
Chief Yant said that the department, and hopefully others, will host community fundraisers aiming for $6,000 or more to help pay the price of a new dog. A community retirement party for Buddy may be in the works. The chief believes grants are available if the "local match funds" can be raised.
Buddy is a German shepherd. The breed is talented and highly regarded in police, military and security work. But in addition to pannus, there are other genetic ailments that affect the breed. "It would have to be a remarkable shepherd for us to go with the breed again," Sgt. Sanders said. He is interested in a Belgian malinous, a cross between the German and Belgian shepherd breeds that is similar to the German shepherd in appearance.
A new dog for the department will be carefully screened to try to find the best match of work ethic and social skills that Buddy has displayed.
It is unusual for a small department like CPD to have a working police dog as a member, Chief Yant noted. Cedaredge is the first of four departments he has headed that has a dog, and he is a confirmed believer in their value as crime fighters and as deterrents to crime.
"Buddy has given a lot, and now he is paying the price," the chief said. "He provides great public relations for the department."
Buddy has the ability to instantly strike a sympathetic chord with the community for the police profession and mission. "The first thing that people always ask us is, 'Where's Buddy? How is Buddy?'"
After his official retirement, Buddy will make a career change and transition to the role of a full-time civilian and family pet with Sgt. Sanders and his family, the place that has been his home since coming to Cedaredge.blog comments powered by Disqus