LABELLE — One of the most popular units at the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office is the K-9 Unit. People just love to see them work and often want to pet them (something they would not recommend you spontaneously walk up and do). These specialized deputies along with their K-9 handlers are used as work dogs for actions ranging from drug enforcement and search and rescue to apprehending criminal subjects. These K-9 police dogs are also ambassadors of the agency but spend most of their lives protecting human law enforcement officers from danger in the line of duty.
Just recently two K-9s retired and are living in loving homes. Typically, when a K-9 is retired, they are adopted by either the handler or another law enforcement officer; but that isn’t always the case. When a K-9 is retired and not able to remain in the handler’s home, those who request to adopt are closely vetted for procurement of the dog.
Henry is an 8-year-old German bloodhound that was imported to the United States at 10 weeks old. By the age of one, he had received his certification for tracking. During his career he recovered numerous articles of evidence, guns and missing and/or endangered persons. Henry’s exceptional tracking abilities made him a valuable member of the Sheriff’s Office.
When Henry retired, he could not be adopted by his previous handler but instead was adopted by another deputy who was a former K-9 handler, Hendry County Sgt. Curtis Clay.
Sgt. Clay described Henry’s life now as “fat and happy.” He currently lives in a home with three senior dogs, so Henry isn’t really alone. “He’s 8 years old but still has the energy of a puppy,” said Clay. He went on to say, “Because he still has a great deal of energy, we work with him several times a week, running tracks with him. Clay continues these tracking session because as a former handler he just doesn’t think it’s good for the dog to sit at home.
Kole is a beautiful long-coat lab from Puerto Rico. Displaced by Hurricane Irma in 2017, Kole was adopted by the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office and shortly became certified as a single purpose narcotic detection dog. He served his time assigned to Country Oaks Elementary School with School Resource Officer Ryan Vickery.
Kole now spends his time at home with Vickery and the rest of his family, getting to know his new house partner, K-9 Max. Vickery feels that K-9 Max and Kole get along well, and he believes that K-9 Max keeps Kole busy. Kole also keeps other family members company and has gone back to work with Vickery’s wife, who is still working from home, and she lovingly refers to Kole as her “co-worker.”