123020_MNS_Dano_retires Dano the dog with marijuana

Dano, the K9 cop with the Brookhaven Police Department, sits with three kilos of marijuana seized in an investigation he assisted with.

December has been a special month for Dano, a K9 cop with the Brookhaven Police Department.

According to a news release, the Belgian Malinois celebrated his 10th birthday Dec. 18 and officially retired from the department 10 days earlier in a small ceremony.

Dano was bred by John Ritch, the department’s canine officer. He began serving Brookhaven in 2013 alongside then-Officer David Fikes, who has since been promoted to sergeant. During his time as a Brookhaven Police canine, Dano received certifications in narcotics detection, tracking and criminal apprehension and was recertified in each category every year.

Dano is not the department’s first K9 officer (Ritch brought K9 Grizz with him when they joined Brookhaven from the Sandy Springs Police as a team). But he is the first dog to be trained and work for only the Brookhaven Police, which was founded in 2013, about six months after the city incorporated.

After two of its handlers earned instructor and certifying official designations from the National Narcotic Detector Dog Association, in November the department expanded from two canine units (one handler and one dog per unit) to four. Dano was replaced on his unit by Bane.

In seven years on the police force, Dano assisted in the arrest of more than 150 violent offenders. In 2016, he was responsible for locating a murder suspect just 28 minutes after the crime was committed. That offender surrendered without incident and later was sentenced to life plus 140 years in prison.

During his career Dano was responsible for the seizure of nearly $697,000 in U.S. currency, and the estimated value of the narcotics he intercepted is more than $4.7 million.

“When he wasn’t busy working, Dano was a rock star in the Brookhaven community,” the release stated. “Always a sucker for a belly-rub or a hug, Dano was loving and affectionate towards members of the public of all ages, and he is – by far – still the most popular officer on our social media accounts.”

Dano lived with Fikes and his family during his entire career. In retirement, he will live with Ritch and his family.

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