Sep. 2—Washington police are mourning the death of a former K9 officer. The police department announced on its Facebook page that retired K9 Diesel has passed away.
"It is with a heavy heart that we are announcing the passing of retired K9 Officer Diesel. K9 Diesel served the City of Washington for many years as a certified Patrol/Narcotics detection K9. He will be missed by many," said the department in the posting.
Washington Assistant Police Chief Dan Christie says Diesel spent around eight years with the department.
"He was a dual-purpose dog trained in both narcotics and tracking or apprehension," said Christie.
Diesel worked with his handler, current Washington Police Chief Derrick Devine, who called his death "like losing a family member." After his retirement Diesel became a family pet at the Devine home.
The WPD Facebook page was filled with more than 80 condolences and memories about the K9 including one from fellow police K9 handler Captain Greg Dietsch.
"Diesel was an A1 K9. Top notch tracker and narcotics locator. He gave me many bruises and would never release the ball to me. Drago and I spent many years training and working together with Diesel. I can tell you that K9 was one of the best in the state. Prayers for the loss for the handler as it is the same as losing a child," Dietsch posted.
Christie pointed out that since Diesel's retirement the police department has added another dog.
"The department currently has two active K9s, Drago (Capt. Greg Dietsch) and Fen (Capt. Matthew Stanley)," said Christie. "Both are also dual-purpose dogs trained in both narcotics and tracking or apprehension. The K9s ride on the patrol with their respective handlers until their services are required."
The dogs are often called out to do routine and sometimes dangerous duty.
"The dogs are used for a variety of different tasks," said Christie. "Some of the things we use the K9s for would include traffic stops, residence or building searches, they can be used to locate items or individuals when tracking in a building or in an open area. These are the same things Diesel did when he was working for the department."
Even though Diesel had been out of active policing for a few years, the department, Christie says is mourning the loss of a partner.
"It is always sad to lose a dog," said Christie. "We at the police department feel, as so many others do, a dog really does become part of the family. We are of course saddened by the loss of Diesel, but it is nice knowing that after all the years he spent working for the department that he was able to retire and spend these last few years at home as a family dog."
The K9 officers of the Washington Police Department are added through private donations that cover the acquisition and training of each dog and equipment.
"We do take donations for the K9s, we have a specific fund set up for any donations we receive that are specifically for the K9s," said Christie.