PORTSMOUTH- A public servant is hanging up his collar after seven and a half years of service in the Portsmouth Police Department’s K-9 unit.
The department announced the retirement of Dark, a Belgian Malinois, last week and he will be spending the rest of his life with his handler’s family.
With Dark since training, when the dog was only 18 months old, Lt. Josh Justice was emotional about his canine’s retirement from the work but realized it was one he deserved.
“A lot of times, you’re definitely spending more time with the dog than you are with anyone else in the police department,” said Justice, whose daughter purchased Dark for him. “I hope other officers get this opportunity to create these bonds with the animals.”
Adjustments are still being made by Justice and the dog, where the man works without his fury companion and the dog wraps its head around a more typical life as a house pet.
“I’m just going to let him enjoy being a dog, not having to work all the time and have some quality of life,” said Justice. “He’s been a good all-around dog, solid since I’ve got him.”
Among the dog’s greatest achievements, Dark was trusted on several big drug possession cases and caught those attempting to flee arrests. Reaching top speeds of 30 miles per hour, Justice said those that attempted to get away were rarely if ever successful.
“Having a police K-9, in my opinion, changes the dynamics of deescalating certain situations,” he said, the department typically having one or two dogs in the unit.
In retirement, Dark will be joined two other dogs in the Justice household: another retired K-9 from a different department and a two-year-old German Shepherd. Justice hopes this pairing, along with accompanying the family on trips, will keep Dark active in this next stage.
Also in a new stage, Justice does not plan on being the handler for the next Portsmouth K-9 due to his responsibilities as a lieutenant, but plans on helping the officer who will take that role.
“It’s been a good ride,” said Justice. “When I got into law enforcement, this was something I always wanted to do but never thought I’d get the opportunity.”
“It’s been by the hardest job I’ve done in my career, but also the most rewarding.”
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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