The Clinton Police Department officially said goodbye to a police dog that, although her time was short with the department, made a sizable impact on the local community and crime in the area.
Clinton Police Chief Jay Tilley praised K-9 Zeusa, who was initially trained by longtime department employee Sgt. Chris Cantrell and handled by Cpl. Ashleigh Peterson. Zeusa was recently “surplussed” by the department, in essence retiring her from the force. She will live out her days with Peterson, who left the department earlier this year, Tilley said.
Having a K-9 unit is a costly proposition, with the price tag for implementation often between $10,000-$15,000 to include the cost of purchasing the dog and then completing the required training for both the K-9 and its handler.
Zeusa was a steal, coming with a price tag of $1 from Roanoke Rapids in 2013, which had some issues with their training program that led to Clinton’s opportunity.
Already with experience, the Belgian Malinois underwent further training with the Clinton Police Department and soon became a fixture in the community. While she was on her last legs as a working dog, she still had enough steam to give the department a couple good years. She is now around 10 years old, a ripe age for a police K-9.
“We took (Zeusa) on the advice from our master trainer out of Cumberland County,” Tilley recalled. “The handler who had Zeusa did a wonderful job. We were able to get a little more work out of her. They thought we might be able to, and she was a great dog. The dog was extremely productive, however when the handler left, because of Zeusa’s age and her health issues, we took the advice of our mentor trainer who said it would be really tough to re-train her.”
The expense of re-training a handler in top of that “just didn’t make it fiscally feasible,” the chief said.
“So basically, we recommended that Zeusa be surplussed out and there has been a request that her handler purchase Zeusa so that she can live out her days in the home of the handler,” Tilley stated.
There are still two active K-9s, Junior handled by Officer Matt Bland and Sarge, handled by Sgt. Eddie Carter. Tilley said the department, which has also had K-9 Golias, handled by Carter, and the original Clinton Police Department K-9 Dandy, handled by Cantrell, will likely stay at two units for now.
That in itself is impressive for a small department like Clinton’s, Tilley noted.
“Zeusa was a great deal,” he said. “It’s sort of expensive for a town our size, so having two (units) is excellent.”
The chief said those furry officers have been — and will remain — some of the best ambassadors for the department.
“The dogs are our most popular officers,” he remarked.