A Mississippi police officer has been busted down to patrol duty after ditching his retired K-9 partner, Ringo, at an animal shelter, according to police officials.
The Jackson Police Department assumed that officer Carl Ellis, who was Ringo’s handler, had continued to care for the former K-9 officer at his home after the dog’s retirement in October. Officials were later surprised to learn otherwise after Ringo’s initial trainer, Randy Hare, spotted the dog up for adoption on the shelter’s website.
“You get into this business because you appreciate dogs and what they’re able to do,” Hare told WAPT-TV. Ringo should never have landed in the shelter, added the trainer, who said dogs can often be treated like “equipment” by police departments. Hare has adopted Ringo.
“The Jackson Police Department respects and holds our canines with high regard just as we do any other officer within our department,” the department said in a statement provided to the Jackson Clarion Ledger. “They are family, and we do not feel they deserve anything less than a loving home in retirement.”
The 10-year-old dog sniffed out drugs for nine years for his department, and was also used in search and rescue operations, according to the newspaper.
When Ringo and fellow canine officer Alpha were retired in October, a Jackson detective said at the ceremony that they “served the city very well” and were responsible for the seizure of narcotics worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. He added: “They can be a dog now.”
The department also posted photos of Ringo and Alpha at the ceremony on its Facebook page, congratulating them on their “recent retirement from a job well [done]!”
After officials learned of Ringo’s fate, new protocols were launched that will require quarterly welfare checks for all of the department’s dogs, both active-duty and retired, WLBT-TV reported.
Ellis could not immediately be reached for comment.