Helena K-9 dog retires

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Victor has three more weeks before he will hang up his paws and retire after a seven-year career as police K-9 dog for the Helena Police Department.

Victor came to Helena in 1999 and has been assisting the city in drug detection, tracking and apprehension. In addition to working for Helena, he has assisted the police departments of Pelham, Alabaster and Hoover. He has also visited schools throughout St. Clair and Shelby counties.

Victor is the second German Shepherd to fight crime in Helena. He followed Hasco, who retired at age 12 in 1998.

The canines that are chosen for police duty go through strenuous selection tests provided by kennels.

Once a canine is chosen, an officer spends six to eight weeks training with the friendly, crime-fighting pooch.

Lt. James Penhale of the Helena Police Department said police look for canines with a good bloodline, who are close to 2-years-old.

&8220;Only one in five German Shepherds can serve as a drug purpose patrol dog,&8221; said Penhale.

Penhale said the breed is chosen because they are &8220;quite unique.&8221;

Now at the ripe old age of 10, Victor, who is owned by the city of Helena, will end his reign as police chief K-9 at the end of this year. He will spend his retirement at the home of his partner, Lt. Penhale.

2007 brings a new year and a new K-9 is needed. The Helena Police Department asks for the community&8217;s help in raising money for the new dog. Donations can be made to the Helena Police K-9 Fund, located at People&8217;s Bank on Highway 17