Posted: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 --- 6:27 p.m
Canine officers have been an essential part of the Madison Police Department since 2005. The unit started off with three teams, and today, one of the original members is retiring. K9 Johnny has beeen working with officer Jim Donnell since day 1.
"He's been a phenomenal dog, I couldn't ask for a better partner. He's been with me constantly," said Donnell.
The two have been on hundreds of cases together, from drug busts to protest controls. However, Donnell says the most memorable case so far was one missing persons case they had in the earlier days.
"Officers have been looking for her [a woman] for a while, and we realized-- oh we've got dogs now. So we went over there, he sniffed her pillow case and probably in three minutes, he was able to track right to her."
Officer Donnell says training is really what makes Johnny and the other canine officers so efficient. They work on everything from tracking suspects to biting. But the most important part of the training is working on being partners who protect each other.
"From an officers safety stand point and the public's stand point, a dog can do so much more than a human can," said Donnell. "They can use their nose, they can identify danger from a further distance."
Johnny's decade of hard work came to an end, but Donnell says Johnny leaves behind a legacy.
"He has been an ambassador not only for our unit, but for our state."
After retirement, Johnny will stay with Donnell as his pet. Donnell says he is not sure if retirement will suit an energetic dog like Johnny--but he will occasionally come in for visits to the station.
"We'll miss working with this one."