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Orange County K9 officer, Hunter, being denied retirement, despite worsening heart condition – Update

Help Save K9 Officer Hunter

There is a interesting, complicated and rather heart-breaking story out of Orange County, NY that is raging over a 7 yr old K-9 officer by the name of Hunter.  Hunter’s current handler, Ed Josefovitz, is leaving the department and has requested that Hunter be retired in light of his age (most K9 officers retire between 8-9 yrs of age) and due to a diagnosed progressive heart condition. In April, 2009, a veterinarian diagnosed Hunter’s heart condition and he was approved for day-to-day service, which typically included hanging out in court, or other sedentary duties. Hunter rarely (as of late) saw any action that would require him to exert himself.

Proponents of the sheriff’s office argue that Hunter is owned by the department, rather than the officer and that he must continue to work until he has reached full retirement age, despite his heart condition. For Capt. Barry’s personal stance on the issue, please visit this link.

Advocates for Hunter insist that going through the rigorous 8 months of retraining at the academy, in addition to the emotional toll of being removed from his current family and placed with a new handler, will only aggravate his worsening heart condition. Concern for his welfare is tremendous and there are many who believe that the dog could be killed by the stress that will be placed upon him in the coming months.

Hunter’s current handler, Josefovitz,  has offered to pay the department $6,900 to cover the cost of a new K-9 officer, but the sheriff’s office has refused. Apparently, many believe that the department is denying Hunter’s retirement out of malice and that the welfare of the dog is being completely over-looked. Some type of ulterior motive does seem to be at play since a prior, healthy K-9 was allowed to retire at only 3 yrs of age when his handler was fired from the department.

Supporters of K-9 Officer Hunter are asked to join the Facebook group Stop NY OC Sheriff’s Office from Killing Hunter. Additionally, supporters are being encouraged to email the NY OC Sheriff’s office at this link or send an email to the mayor at this link. The family is hoping to not only spread the word of Hunter’s plight (if you are concerned, please forward this to friends and family and post on your social networking sites), but also, to get the word to the sheriff’s office and the mayor, that there is support for Hunter. There is amazing power in numbers and obviously, the stretch and power of the internet is incredible.

Hunter with Handler’s Other Dogs

Hunter with his handler's other dogs

7 yr old Hunter, a German shepherd K-9 officer for New York’s Orange County Sheriff’s office,  is currently caught in the middle of a war waging between his department, and his prior handler, Ed Josefovitz. Please refer to the article posted yesterday, Orange County K-9 Officer, Hunter, being denied retirement, despite worsening heart condition.

Hunter has been diagnosed with Chronic degenerative valve disease. While he is asymptomatic at this time, the Merck Veterinary Manual indicates that dogs with this condition develop exercise intolerance, cough, increased respiratory rate and effort, with the possibility (though rare) of sudden death, as the disease progresses.

The German shepherd breed is considered to be a senior between the ages of 7-8 yrs, with their lifespan typically ranging from 9-14 yrs. Obviously, retirement age of the dogs will not only vary by departments, but also, based on the overall health of the dog. An interesting question/answer forum was discovered where the question of K-9 retirement age was posed. Most of the answers, found here were from current, or former, police officers. Apparently, if a dog is close to retirement age at the time that his partner leaves the department, he is typically allowed to retire with his handler. Again, this will obviously vary by departments.

Capt. Barry, of the OCSO, has stated his position on this matter here.  He argues that Josefovitz was trained extensively for his position and that he has chosen to abandon his partner, Hunter, and move on to another department, knowing full well that he could not retire his dog.  Josefovitz and his wife argue that the dog should be allowed to reitre in light of his age and his diagnosed, progressive medical condition.

Josefovitz and his wife have offered to pay the department $6900 to cover the expense of a new K-9 for the department. The sheriff’s office has refused the offer and currently they have put Hunter back into training with a new handler. The question that seems to be repeated again and again, is why the department is unwilling to accept the $6900 to buy a new, young dog rather than working a 7 yr old K-9 into his senior years.

Capt. Barry has argued that the true cost lies in the tens of thousands of dollars needed to train the K-9 handler (human, not dog). However, this appears to be a cost that is going to be incurred with or without K-9 Hunter in service. The tens of thousands of dollars that is will cost to train a new K-9 handler are going to be spent while using Hunter, and then an additional $6900 (+) will be incurred after Hunter is officially retired and a new dog must be purchased.

The arguments in this fight are heated on both sides as emotions are flared. The big question is, who will be the biggest loser in this fight? Is Hunter a pawn in a no-win situation? You can read the empassioned words of those in support of Hunter’s retirement at this Facebook group, Stop NY OC Sheriff’s Office from Killing Hunter.

No matter how you turn this… working a dog with congenital heart problems to death because of expense is animal abuse and torture!!  JOMP~

By:  Penny Eims – Tacoma Dogs Examiner/Posted LA Examiner

Posted: Just One More Pet

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October 25, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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