A local 9-year-old has received one of the highest awards that can be bestowed for valor.
The Clinton Police Department’s veteran K9 Dandy, who has worked for the last eight years alongside handler, owner and partner Sgt. Chris Cantrell, was recognized for his outstanding service during the City Council’s meeting this week. Police Chief Jay Tilley introduced the retiring officer with an unprecedented “56 years of service”— in dog years, of course — to the department and the community and said he was deserving of recognition.
“The Clinton Police Department is proud to bestow the Medal of Valor to Dandy, the Department’s first police canine,” said Tilley. “This award is one of the most prestigious awards and customarily given for a single meritorious act. Dandy’s career work has had such an impact on the safety of the citizens, it makes him deserving of this award.”
With a little more gray in his fur these days, Dandy sat at Cantrell’s feet and played with a tennis ball as Tilley listed the numerous accomplishments during the career of what has become a well-known and loved police dog, the first to ever be utilized by the department.
Dandy arrived at the Clinton Police Department in 2005 and was assigned to his partner, Sgt. Chris Cantrell. After eight weeks of “canine rookie school,” Dandy and Chris were certified as a patrol dog team by the North American Police Work Dog Association.
Once out of school, it was not long before Dandy established himself more than capable of sniffing out drugs and, with the guidance of Cantrell and other officers, putting offenders behind bars.
“Dandy quickly showed that he had a talent for locating illegal drugs,” said Tilley. “Law enforcement seized 705 pounds of marijuana, 335 pounds of cocaine, 46 pounds of methamphetamine, 25 pounds of heroin and over 1,000 illegal pills including ecstasy based on Dandy’s scent searches.”
And locating drugs was not the only ability Dandy possessed, Tilley said.
During his career he located four missing children, two missing adults, physically apprehended four wanted suspects, located 15 guns and conducted 48 building searches while locating three suspects inside the buildings. More often than not, if there was a suspect to be sniffed out, Dandy did it. The police K9’s ability to locate a suspect during a trail from a scene has a proven 58 percent success rate, Tilley noted.
Over their career, the team of Dandy and Cantrell logged over 1,500 hours of training and received certifications from the International Police Work Dog Association.
While invaluable to the community, helping law enforcement seize illicit drugs and was merely a scratch on the surface of what the German Shepherd has meant to Clinton and Sampson County during his career on the force. Whether it was during the course of his work, or the countless trips to various local events and area schools to show off his skills, the name “Dandy” has become well-known by children and adults alike.
“The greatest asset that Dandy possessed was his skill as an ambassador for the Police Department and the City of Clinton. Over 17, 000 children have interacted with Dandy in more than 400 demonstrations (and he) has visited over 38 different schools,” said Tilley. “No value can be placed on a big burly police dog extending a paw to shake hands with an excited and curious child.”
Cantrell will wear the Medal of Valor citation bar on his uniform in honor of Dandy’s retirement. At the tail end of the short ceremony this week, Cantrell thanked his family, city officials, the police department and local veterinarian Dr. William Oglesby, who offered free vaccinations and heartworm prevention for Dandy for the rest of his life.
It has been a life well lived, in service to the community, local officials said.
“Dandy and his partner Chris have set a high standard for future canine teams,” the police chief said. “The Clinton Police Department could have never chosen a better first canine.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.