Chase, Nobles County's K-9 officer, ready for life of leisureWORTHINGTON — He’s worked hard, accomplished a lot and is ready for a more relaxed lifestyle. He turned 9 in July, and Nobles County Sheriff’s K-9 Chase is ready to retire. After all, in people years he would be 63.
WORTHINGTON — He’s worked hard, accomplished a lot and is ready for a more relaxed lifestyle. He turned 9 in July, and Nobles County Sheriff’s K-9 Chase is ready to retire. After all, in people years he would be 63.
Chase became part of the Nobles County Sheriff’s Office in 2005, working with Nobles County Deputy T.J. Gertsema.
When Gertsema left the department, Chase was paired with Nobles County Deputy Dustin Roemeling. As the veteran of the K-9 unit, Chase helped Roemeling learn the ropes, breaking in his new partner with competence. The two became good friends, and it is to Roemeling’s home Chase will retire.
“He gets to lie around and be a dog,” Roemeling said with a grin.
Chase has had a tough year physically, enduring two surgeries.
According to Roemeling, the average police dog retires when it is 7 or 8 years old. K-9s, because they are so active, tend to have trouble as they age because they do a lot of jumping — in and out of vehicles, chasing suspects, balancing on hind legs while reaching up to sniff objects. They are trained to be extremely agile, jumping hurdles, climbing ramps and ladders and working out on equipment that would baffle the average dog.
“I’m impressed he has made it this long. Chase still thinks he can do anything,” Roemeling admitted. “The first couple of months, this will be tough on him.”
When Chase sees his partner in uniform and isn’t allowed to go with him, he gets sad, Roemeling said. There will definitely be an adjustment period.
Like most K-9s, the act of locating drugs, finding lost people and tracking suspects is a game — his favorite game, and one he gets to play almost every day with his favorite person. Roemeling said he will probably take Chase out to train with him after retirement, just to help ease the change in routine.
As a dual-purpose dog, Chase is trained to locate narcotics, find suspects and lost people and protect his partner. In his career, he has stopped many fleeing suspects, rounded up others who were trying to hide and sniffed out marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines and more. He saved the life of an elderly woman who was disoriented and ended up in a lake in 14-degree weather, locating her within minutes of being brought onto the scene. He even appeared on a billboard for Minnesota West Community and Technical College.
“He’s tracked down violent felons, those who are eluding law enforcement, located a guy in a cornfield a while back and has had a lot of drug finds,” Roemeling said of his partner. “He is also good for public relations, and has done many presentations.”
Chase helps deter drug use in Nobles County, Roemeling believes, and in the schools. Just being able to say “Come out with your hands up or I’ll release the dog” during a confrontation is an effective way to get deputies and suspects safely out of a bad situation.
“They tend to come out,” Roemeling explained. “They don’t want to get bitten.”
Having a K-9 is like having an additional deputy, Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening stated.
“There is an initial cost, but after that it is mostly maintenance and upkeep,” he said. “With vet bills and food and things like that, having a dog costs us about $2,500 a year — one of the least costly tools we have.”
Chase has been off the job for a bit because of his last surgery — he had prostate issues — but will go back to work once his partner determines he is ready. Wilkening said he is leaving that decision up to Roemeling, who knows the dog best. The decision of when to pull the dog completely off the streets will also be left up to Roemeling.
Fundraising is under way to purchase a new dog, which will cost between $14,000 and $16,000 for the price of the dog and initial training. Wilkening said Chase was purchased with funds that were donated and a grant, but the grant no longer exists. Civic organizations, businesses and individuals are asked to consider donating toward a new dog. Roemeling has been in contact with K-9 suppliers, and isn’t sure what breed a new dog will be. He does know, however, that he wants another dual-purpose dog.
Not having a K-9 unit, Wilkening said, is not an option he wants to explore.
Roemeling knows there are other departments in the area that have dogs, but said they are not always available.
“Not having a dog leaves us searching on our own for people, suspects and drugs,” he said. “Having a K-9 unit reduces the risk of injury to deputies and the suspects, and to lawsuits stemming from injuries.”
When Roemeling gets the money raised to purchase and train a new partner, Chase will move from his current quarters in a kennel at his partner’s residence to the house, and spend the rest of his life relaxing, taking it easy and maybe dreaming of the days when he tracked down bad guys, sniffed out drugs and following his partner into the fray.
Anyone interested in donating to the K-9 project can contact Roemeling at the Law Enforcement Center at 372-2136.