PORT ST. LUCIE — A couple of fresh faces, er, snouts will be padding around at the Port St. Lucie Police Department.
That’s because Blek, Officer Mitch Miller’s German shepherd/Dutch shepherd mix, and Dingo, the German shepherd/Dutch shepherd and Malinois cross of Officer Robbie Gibbins, are retiring.
Miller and Gibbins will receive new police K9s.
“I love working with animals and … this is a partner 24/7,” Miller said Tuesday. “Everywhere you go ... you take a shower, he's laying at the shower door, so you really build a bond.”
The two pooches each are more than 8 years old, but during a Tuesday outing at a training facility in Port St. Lucie, they looked anything but dog-tired, jumping over a chain link fence and speeding after a red throw toy.
They also clowned around for a bit with their handlers.
Gibbins, who joined the department in 2006 and has been a K9 officer since 2015, called working with police dogs the agency’s best job.
“A lot of it has to do with the communication ... you're actually communicating with a dog and the dog is helping me to locate somebody or something of evidentiary value that can either make or break a case, which is amazing,” Gibbins said.
Gibbins recalled a couple of memorable tracks, including a case last year in which they helped with two armed carjacking suspects and a second involving a homicide suspect apprehension.
“There's a lot of them, I can't really choose, but we've had some good ones over the years,” he said.
Miller said Port St. Lucie police have a total of five K9s. Four can detect drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, and track and apprehend suspects, while one is an explosives detection dog.
Miller has been in the K9 unit about 13 years, and enjoys seeing the dogs work.
“From the first time that I've watched my first dog ... track somebody to the last time that he did it's still amazing to me that they actually can pick up the scent and follow it all the way through and find somebody miles away if need be,” Miller said.
Blek and Dingo will transition from patrolling the streets of Port St. Lucie to the comforts of home.
Miller said his kids grew up with Blek and his first dog, Drago, a German shepherd from the Czech Republic who died in 2016 a year after retiring.
“I'm pretty excited to get a new dog, get another opportunity to really work him,” Miller said.
Gibbins said he has children ages 11 and 8, describing Dingo as “their favorite thing in the world.”
The replacement dogs each will cost about $12,500, and will be selected from Metro Dade K-9 Services.
Sgt. John Dellacroce, police spokesperson, said the dogs will be picked out Wednesday, and after a veterinarian check out they will begin 600 hours of training.
Will Greenlee is a breaking news reporter for TCPalm. Follow Will on Twitter @OffTheBeatTweet or reach him by phone at 772-692-8936. E-mail him at email@example.com
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This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Police K9s Dingo and Blek are retiring