Members of the Jacksonville Police Department and the community on Friday morning celebrated the retirement of one of the department's three four-legged officers, Roby.
Roby, a 10-year-old German Shepherd, will be spending the rest of his life with his handler and K-9 instructor Regina Boyd. He’s been with the department since 2008.
Roby suffered injuries during an apprehension at the end of 2012 and had to go through months of physical therapy and surgeries to make him fit for duty as a police dog again.
“There had been two calls from an apartment complex of a suspicious person. The first officer gets there, comes in contact with the person, and he ends up pushing her and takes off running,” Boyd said.
After the suspect ran from police, another call came in alerting them that the suspicious man was in the complex.
“[The man] ends up striking the officer and takes off running again,” Boyd said. “We came back in, set up a perimeter and we did a track for the suspect.”
The suspect was found under bags of trash, pillows and blankets in a backyard, where he couldn’t be seen.
“[Roby] alerted on him, and [the suspect] was given an opportunity to give up and show himself and he refused,” Boyd said.
“The dog was sent in and apprehended the suspect when the suspect took off running and tried to fight with the dog, slamming him down on the pavement, slammed him into a chain link fence and caused injuries to his hips and spine.”
Roby had to take some time off from his duties to recover, she said.
“He went through a couple of surgeries where they had to replace some ligaments in his legs, then he was brought back to work and he just kept getting worse,” Boyd said.
After some physical therapy and laser treatments, Roby’s condition improved, but officers decided it was time for him to retire.
Friday, Roby received a retirement badge, along with tons of treats, bones and belly rubs from the department.
In addition, Boyd was told that the dog park at Dupree Park in Jacksonville would be named after her longtime partner. “I was totally shocked. That’s outstanding,” she said.
Fundraisers were held for the department to get a new dog, which costs around $9,000.
The community and various organizations worked together to raise the necessary funds, and Boyd’s new partner, Alex, was purchased in June.
Alex, a 1 1/2-year-old Dutch Shepherd, officially started with the department on June 8. He’s been working with Boyd and will live with her and Roby at their home.
“We’ve already gotten three drug busts,” Boyd said. “I think he’s going to be a great asset to the department.”