CANFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – The Canfield Police Department introduced its new K9 officer, Rocky, on Tuesday while celebrating the retirement of Thor, the police dog Rocky is replacing.
Thor is 10 years old and has been serving the department for the last eight years.
He was forced to retire because of health problems. The German Shepherd suffers from hip dysplasia in his hind legs, meaning his hip joint is malformed.
It’s a struggle for Thor to walk nowadays.
“They started probably about two years ago, jumping in and out of the cruiser. When I had to start helping him get up in the car, that’s when I knew it was time for him to retire,” said Canfield Police K9 Handler Chad DeBarr.
Thor hasn’t been used for police work since spring. DeBarr said Thor’s specialty was finding drugs but his best accomplishment came last November when he found a missing girl in North Jackson. DeBarr said she was unconscious in the woods.
“The ER doctor stated to us that if that girl had been in the elements 15 or 20 minutes later, she might’ve had some issues.”
Rocky, the newest K9 officer, is also a Shepherd breed. He’s been working for the department since May.
Rocky is a multi-purpose officer — he is used for protection, drug searches, and tracking scents.
The Canfield Rotary Club covered the cost of the 2-year-old Dutch Shepherd and all of his training.
“We want to maintain what we have and make it better. That’s why we figured, what a better way than get a nice, new, younger dog and keep up the good work in the Canfield Police Department,” said Don Dragish, with the Canfield Rotary Club.
There’s no guarantee Rocky won’t also suffer from hip issues in the future.
“This is a disease of large breed dogs,” said Brandt Athey, a veterinarian at Austintown Veterinary Clinic.
He said Shepherds aren’t high on the list of dogs having a disposition of hip dysplasia.
“Certainly, it can happen in any breed. We worry about it mostly in large breed dogs because those are the dogs that have enough weight on those hind limbs where might not only they be dysplastic, but then they would show clinical signs.”
Athey said keeping a dog lean, especially when it’s young and growing, can help prevent hip problems.
Thor is going to continue living with Officer DeBarr, who had to pay the city $1 to keep him.