(Posted July 2, 2018)
By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer
On Monday, June 25, Arc wore his jacket and badges one last time before retiring as the West Jefferson Police Department’s first police dog. He spent six years on the force.
“He’ll still come to the office because he has a lot of friends here,” said his handler, Detective Sgt. Brandon Smith.
Arc’s replacement has arrived from Europe and is going through training at K-9 Storm in Sunbury where Arc and Smith trained. The new dog will officially join the department on Aug. 1.
Six years is the normal work span for a drug-sniffing or bomb-sniffing dog, Smith explained. When the dog retires, it usually goes to the handler since the two have been together 24/7 for those six years.
Smith has been working with Chief Richard Hardy on paperwork that will allow Arc to live out his life at Smith’s home near Hilliard.
“He’ll have a big backyard to run in, and he has a new friend to play with called Lil Kitty,” Smith said, adding that he is proud that Arc came through his six years in good health. “He has no wounds, no injuries, and no illnesses. And he never bit anyone. He’s going to have a long life.”
The life expectancy of dogs like Arc, a type of German shepherd, is generally 10 to 14 years. Arc was 1.5 years old when he joined the force.
During his career, Arc sniffed out drugs, finding heroin, cocaine, crack, marijuana, crystal meth, fentanyl, drug paraphernalia, drug instruments, and drug-related U.S. currency. His nose found $261,170 in drug-related currency.
In one instance, in February of this year, the Ohio Highway Patrol requested Arc’s assistance on a case on I-70 in Madison County. His nose detected in a vehicle what turned out to be $2.7 million worth of cocaine.
“That won’t make it to the street,” said Smith.
Arc and Smith also made trips to schools. Some of those trips were drug-sniffing jobs while others were public relations visits during which students got to know and pet Arc.
Arc earned citations for his part in the capture of a serial bank robber. In late 2015, officers had the suspect under surveillance and were closing in on him. They had tracked him from London to Dublin. Arc, Smith, and the other officers were ready. When the alleged robber ran out of the bank, he ran into Arc.
“I called (Arc) off; his job was done,” said Smith, who immediately cuffed the suspect who now sits in prison.
The pair was recognized by then Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott and later by WSNY95 radio as Heroes of the Day. Certificates and photos from those two occasions hang above Smith’s desk.
For Smith, a dog lover who didn’t have a dog when he got Arc, his time as part of West Jefferson K-9 unit has been the high point of his career.
“Being behind the leash of a police dog has a reward that is far beyond a paycheck. Throughout a handler’s career, you are constantly striving to grow better as a team on a daily basis. As this process matures, synchronization solidifies and the entire community benefits,” Smith said.
Training is integral to a K-9 team’s success, he continued.
“My trainers not only impacted my K-9 career, they have changed my life. I was paired with a dog that wanted to work for me and protect me 24 hours a day. Once I gave him all of my trust as a handler, big things happened for us both,” Smith said.
“It has been my honor to have handled him as our agency’s first police dog. I will honor him for the rest of his life and beyond. I look forward to seeing the next handler’s life changed for the good. I will surely be there for them in any way that I possibly can. Seeing our K-9 program grow means the world to me.”
Chief Hardy said Arc’s work has garnered the community’s respect and support for continuance of the K-9 program.
Recently, the Tidd family donated $15,500 for the purchase and training of West Jefferson’s next police dog.