The Heflin Police Department lost its youngest member to retirement this week — K-9 Addi retired at the age of 7, six and a half years after joining the department as a police service dog.
Sgt. Kevin Turley, Addi’s owner, is also leaving the department. Their last day was July 20, said Heflin police Chief A.J. Benefield.
Addi, a Dutch shepherd, became a police service dog through a partnership, Turley said.
He paid her veterinary bills, fed her and took care of maintenance training. Her initial training at Southeastern K-9 Academy in Georgia to become a police service dog was paid by the department, Turley said. In April 2009, the department also paid for her SWAT K-9 training. Turley initially paid for drug detection training at Lakeview K-9 Services in Tennessee in 2012. However, he was reimbursed for the cost when the new administration came into office, Turley said.
At first, Addi tracked suspects for the department, cleared buildings, conducted searches and protected Turley, her handler. Later she learned to sniff out illegal drugs. During her career she was deployed 134 times and aided in the arrest of 61 suspects, Turley said. She was injured in the line of duty in June when she was attacked by two pit bull dogs while officers were trying to serve an arrest warrant.
Her retirement is not due to the injury, though, Turley said.
“She has bounced back from that,” he said.
She will continue to be active and train in her retirement, because she loves what she does, Turley said.
Addi is retiring after serving about the average amount of time for a police dog, according to Ricky Farley, owner of Alabama Canine Law Enforcement Officers Training Center in Northport. The national average for a patrol dog is seven to eight years of service, Farley said. Some younger dogs can serve longer, he said.
Farley said he has been training police dogs and their handlers through the training center since 1992. To replace a dual-trained dog like Addi, one who is trained for drug detection and for apprehension, it would take about 16 weeks and $15,000, he said.
The dogs can pay the departments back, Farley said. When finding drugs, the dogs can make it possible for the officers to seize other assets found with the drugs including cars, houses or money, Farley said.
Heflin police recently seized a car in connection with such a case and has filed paperwork to have ownership transferred to the department.
Turley said the post was the highlight of his career.
“I love the positive interaction with the community,” Turley said. “I love doing the demonstrations at the schools and civic events, to see the kids get fired up and smile.”