Westport K-9 Lola takes a bow (wow) on retirement
Updated 4:47 pm, Thursday, February 23, 2012
Every dog has its day. For Lola, the Westport K-9, Wednesday was her last day as a patrol canine for the Westport Police Department.
In a retirement ceremony at mid-afternoon in Police Department headquarters on Jesup Road, Lola, a black German shepherd, was honored with a commendation from First Selectman Gordon Joseloff along with words of tribute from Westport Police Chief Dale Call and her handler, Officer Marc Heinmiller.
Lola, at 12 years old, served on the local police more than a decade and is credited in helping make more than 1,000 arrests. She was trained in narcotics detection, building searches, tracking, handler protection and apprehension.
But Lola now "has medical issues," according to Officer Ryan Paulsson, regarding her retirement. "It's her time. Ten years is a long career for a police dog."
Lola has been in the care of Heinmiller for the past five years and will continue to live with him as a family pet. "She's got a lot of energy and high drive," Heinmiller said. "She's been a great police dog, but is also great with kids. She knows when it's time to work and can turn it on. She'll be hard to replace."
The department is currently looking at a male dog from Hungary as a replacement for Lola. "Prices for police dogs, now post 9/11, are about $10,000 or more," said Paulsson. "We will look to fund through donations and will host a name-the-dog contest with input from area youth."
Call said, "It's nice when a dog makes it through a long career, and Lola still looks good for 12 years old. We should all look so good. But every good dog has its day and she'll need to get used to sitting around the house."
Though no "pension" has been planned for Lola, Call joked "a biscuit a day" might be appropriate.
Costs associated with acquiring a new police dog can be nearly $10,000, police officials said, and they are asking the public's help in meeting that goal as they look for prospective K-9 candidates.
The town's children can play a role in selecting a name for the new police dog. Drop boxes will be placed at Earth Animal, 606 Post Road East, and the Westport Police Department lobby, 50 Jesup Road. Entries should include one male name and one female name, depending on the animal acquired. The winner will have his/her picture taken with the new K-9 and framed. In addition, a copy of the photo will be hung at police headquarters.
For more information about the Westport Police Department's K-9 unit, check www.westportct.gov, and visit "Specialized Units" on the Police Department page. To support the K-9 unit, send donations to: Westport Police K-9 Unit, 50 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880.