Loss of Fayette K-9s a blow to law enforcement

An editorial from The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — The press release that popped into The Register-Herald newsroom’s e-mail at mid-evening Tuesday was startling and, perhaps, met with a bit of disbelief.

In the release, Sheriff Steve Kessler broke the news that the department’s K-9 unit had lost yet another member to illness. The fact that it was the third death in about six weeks’ time was startling — and it was hard to believe they could have such bad luck.

The first of the dogs to die, Niko, had been retired for a couple of years, but was still remembered fondly by the unit. But when Wilbur, a tracking bloodhound, and Herk, a cross-trained Belgian Malinois, were lost to illness in consecutive weeks, it left every member of the unit devastated, Kessler said.

“The loss of these two extraordinary animals is nothing short of a tragedy for the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office,” he added.

K-9s are invaluable assets to law enforcement. Without their highly developed sense of smell, tons of drugs would make it to the street, fugitives — or lost children — would not be found.

They protect their human counterpart and are not afraid to take down an armed suspect and keep him down until their partner arrives to snap on the cuffs.

Herk had a “keen” nose and a reputation as one of the best drug dogs in the region, said Sheriff Kessler.

Wilbur was a tracking machine, according to his handler, Sgt. J.R. McMullen. In one instance, Wilbur found a 2-year-old who had wandered a mile away from his home. The family and search parties looked for hours, but Wilbur managed to find the boy in an hour…

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