LAURINBURG —During her five-year stint with the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office, Captain Lola has tracked and aiding in the apprehension of a lot of criminals.
She was worked on countless drug searches and seizures and her career has also included more than 1,500 hours of documented training.
To sum it up, the K9 officer has been busy.
But hip problems have forced the 10-year of dog into retirement. She got a robust send off Thursday afternoon during a special K9 retirement ceremony at the Scotland County Courthouse.
“It’s a very special day for the sheriff’s office and also for myself being a K9 lover having six of them there at my home,” Sheriff Ralph Kersey said.
According to Kersey, Lola’s health issues did not deter her drive and determination, but “it did begin to affect her stamina.”
“It was decided with these oncoming health problems and K9 Lola’s age of 10 years, it was time for her to retire,” Kersey said. “K9 Lola is to be commended for her years of faithful service to the community, the sheriff’s office and her handler.”
Stepping in to fill Lola’s paws is Eli and his handler Sgt. Miles Mack. Eli finished his certification a month ago.
“With Lola retiring, we’ll always have a spot to fill. He’s got shoes to fill and a female spot,” Kersey said. “He’s already been positive for the sheriff’s department. We’re happy to have Eli aboard.”
Lola, a Belgian Malinois, was paired with her handler Lt. Danny McClellan. Lola came to the United States from the Netherlands in 2006.
Kersey said McClellan spent months training Lola in narcotics detection. McClellan and Lola then attended a six-week K9 handlers course, where they both went through training in tracking, article search, suspect, building, narcotic searches and obedience training as well as other areas, where she excelled.
She earned her national certification and has assisted other agencies.
On Thursday, Lola was recognized with a plaque for her service. McClellan is now with the Investigative Unit.
Kersey said the Sheriff’s Office K9 unit currently has five K-9 teams, which includes the dog and its handler. The unit’s purpose is to provide trained service dogs to help locate illegal narcotics, apprehend fleeing felons and find lost and missing persons and other specialized areas of training. The unit includes, Sgt. Brandon Cribb and Lt. K9 Cido; St. Will Mcllwain and Lt. k9 Igor; Deputy B.J. Knight and K9 Bob; and Deputy Mike woods and K9 Lt. Julo.
The dogs go home with their handlers every night and when they are at home, Kersey said, “they act like ordinary family pets.”
“Once his handler puts him in the car and comes to work the dog demeanor changes,” Kersey said.”He seems to sense they will be required to assist their partner.”
Nine K9 officers have died in the line of duty this year nationwide.
Maria D. Grandy can be reached at 910-506-3171.