The Reedsburg Police Department’s oldest officer retired at a brief ceremony Monday.
Fritz, the city’s police dog – or K9, in the jargon of law enforcement – is calling it quits.
“I’ve had him since August of 2005,” said Sgt. Andrew Foesch, Fritz’s handler.
Fritz will be 11 in August, so if the popular ratio of one-to-seven for conversion of dog years to people years holds true, he’s worked well into what most consider retirement years.
Foesch said Fritz has chalked up an impressive record in the nearly nine years he’s served the city, including more than 1,000 deployments.
Fritz’s assignments ranged from drug searches to burglary investigations, from missing-person searches to public demonstrations at schools and civic groups.
Foesch recalled a few of the special days in Fritz’s career. One came a few years ago, Foesch said, when Fritz alerted on a storage unit that led to a search that uncovered 10 pounds of marijuana, along with another two pounds at the owner’s home.
Then there was the day a few years ago when police in Lake Delton asked for help locating suspects in a home invasion in Rock County. The suspects were believed to be hiding in the Lake Delton area.
“Fritz found one of the suspects in hiding over there,” Foesch said. “So I was out in the woods for about three hours and it felt really good because that was a person that got sentenced and put away for a long time.”
When it comes to certain police work, Reedsburg Police Chief Timothy Becker said, nothing can take the place of a dog.
“The K9 is a fantastic tool to have,” Becker said. “There’s no comparison of what the dog can do compared to what a person can do.”
Dave Estes Sr., who chairs the city’s Police and Fire Commission, said the department’s K9 program continues to have the “100 percent” backing of the commission.
“It helps out other communities, too, not just ours,” Estes said. “We are known as a community that people don’t want to do drugs in — and this is one of the reasons why, because of the dog.”
Police dogs customarily live with their handlers, in part because the officer-dog bond is an important part of the dog’s training.
“He’s my partner,” Foesch said. “I’ve spent more time with him than, probably, any other family member just because I go to work with him, I come home with him. We’ve trained continuously, month to month to month.”
And now Foesch, who’s not retiring, will go to work alone. Fritz will remain at home with Foesch’s family, who have adopted the dog.
“Andy’s done a great job with Fritz, and he’s done a lot of great things for the department and the community,” Becker said.
Becker said the department’s new K9 handler will be officer Joshua Hoege, who will travel to North Carolina in mid-April for two weeks of training with the city’s new dog.