PUNTA GORDA, Fla.- Sheriff Bill Prummell officially recognized the service and retirement of three of the agency’s four-legged workers in front of the Sheriff's Office Command Staff today.
K9 Justice, a bloodhound, is retiring from work after almost seven years of tracking service. Justice’s most memorable track was actually in Collier County when his handler, Corporal Deryk Alexander, was called for a suicidal person who had walked away from a hospital. Even though it had been more than 11 hours since the person left, Justice was able to get the person’s scent from some clothing and track for almost two miles to locate the person. Even though Justice is retiring, Corporal Alexander has a new partner and continues to work in the K9 Unit.
K9 Vader, a patrol dog, retired earlier this year after serving the citizens of Charlotte County for a little over three years. Vader’s handler, Corporal Ronnie Pressley, transferred to a road patrol supervisor’s position in January, prompting Vader’s retirement from service. Vader was credited with finding more than 20 people. He started his K9 career with a physical apprehension of a suspected rapist only six days after being certified. He finished on an equally high-note by making his final apprehension on a murder suspect.
K9 Atlas also completed his nearly seven year patrol dog career earlier this year. In January, Sergeant John Heck, Atlas’ handler, was transferred from the K9 Unit to a District Investigations position. During Atlas’ career, he assisted in the seizure of thousands of dollars, numerous vehicles and helped locate many criminal suspects. Atlas’ specialty was sniffing out large quantities of drugs that were being shipped by various means.
All three dogs are now retired to their handlers’ homes for a well-deserved rest. Regardless of their age, though, they still display eagerness to get back into a K9 patrol vehicle and go off to work.