Jun. 17—Smokey is dog-tired. Well, not exactly. The 7-year-old Border Collie still has a ton of energy, but his career in the K9 program of the Newton Police Department has come to an end after assisting in more than 150 deployments in six years. Yup, our good boy has officially retired from active service.
During the city council meeting on June 6, Newton Police Chief Rob Burdess commended Smokey for his service. Originally rescued as a stray from the Animal Rescue League, Smokey was eventually "trained up to be a hero," he said. Officer Zach Walker was chosen to become his handler.
"They've done an amazing job," Burdess said. "...Smokey and Zach have spent 1,200-plus hours training together. Being a canine handler is a unique opportunity for a police officer. You literally take your work home with you every single night. It's a burden in a way. But in another way it's so satisfying."
K9 Smokey and his handler, officer Zach Walker, wait for a presentation honoring Smokey's retirement from the Newton Police Department during the June 6 city council meeting.
In addition to his deployments for conducting searches of vehicles, homes and school facilities for narcotics, missing persons and fugitive apprehension cases, Smokey — and Walker — seized illegal narcotics and guns with a street value of over $10,000. They also took part in more than 30 public presentations.
Upon Smokey's retirement, the former K9 unit has been donated to his handler in exchange for his lifetime care and maintenance at Walker's personal expense. Walker agreed to the donation, as did the city council who also unanimously voted to approve Smokey's retirement.
Walker was presented a plaque of recognition for his service with Smokey. The Newton police officer thanked the community and said a few words about his partner. A lot of the traits that Smokey has that made him a good working dog make him kind of a frustrating pet, Walker said. Specifically, his high energy.
"That, I think, kept him from getting adopted for awhile. The City of Newton really gave him an opportunity to use those traits to do good," Walker said. "We've done so many community presentations and stuff. I was a younger officer. I only had been here about two years when I got selected."
From left: Newton Mayor Mike Hansen, Newton Police Chief Rob Burdess, officer Zach Walker and K9 Smokey pose for photos during Smokey's retirement presentation at the June 6 city council meeting.
It was very unique for Walker to see the community support for Smokey and himself right away, even from people he would not expect.
"Probably one of my favorite memories is even people that had made bad decisions and were going to jail would hear Smokey bark and ask if it was K9 Smokey," he said.
Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or email@example.com