Police canine to retire after 10 years in law enforcement

The German Shepherd will retire in the spring and will live with Corporal Chris Smith.
Courtesy photo

Cpl. Chris Smith and his German Shepherd, Utz, of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department were recognized by the Missouri Police Canine Association for their collaboration in the past 10 years in drug arrests, school demonstrations, service organizations and community events, according to a news release.

Deputy Tom O’Sullivan said Smith and Utz are train on a daily basis to enhance their performance. Some of their duties include tracking individual suspects, searching buildings and locating illegal drugs.

“It takes a certain type of officer to be able to do that job,” O’Sullivan said. “It’s a tremendous commitment in terms of time and effort.”

Smith has been in law enforcement for 14 years, 10 of which were spent working with Utz. Together they have tracked and apprehended more than 60 people, according to the news release. Smith said this is a high success rate.

“That is by far the best partner you could ever ask for,” Smith said. “I can ride around with him. I have somebody to talk to and he’s always happy and excited to go to work and always motivated to get out there and do something.”

Smith has worked training German Shepherds for more than 20 years, but Utz was his first police dog. To prepare for the patrol job, Utz had to go through an 8-week handlers’ course in Cape Girardeau. They also train for one-week periods quarterly to maintain certification.

Utz is a dual-purpose dog, which means he both detects drugs and does patrol, a duty including tracking, building searches and handler protection. He goes with Smith to work and assists whenever he gets a call for a dog.

“He has a great nose for locating things, drugs and people,” Smith said. “We saw that right away.”

Smith said Utz transitions well from relaxing in the car to going out to track people.

“He’s really social and just a really great, friendly, lovable dog but he’s also able to go out and do a really good job for us and find people,” Smith said.

After his 10-year run as a police dog, Utz will be retiring in the spring and living in Smith’s home as a full-time house dog. Smith said most dogs retire within 6 to 8 years, so Utz's 10-year mark is a special milestone.

“It’s great to be recognized by a peer association and anytime anybody gets an award that’s always something to be proud of,” O’Sullivan said. “I think that reflects well on Corporal Smith and the department.”

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