Over the weekend, the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office announced that retired K-9 Heiko passed away peacefully with his two handlers by his side, just one week shy of turning 11 years old.
According to a KCSO Facebook post, Heiko was a product of the department’s 2010 puppy program and the son of K-9 Ajax. Heiko was “hired” into service with KCSO on Dec. 11, 2011, and was assigned to the unit’s newest handler, deputy Dan Twomey.
In 2012, Heiko was selected as “Top Dog” during Spokane Police Department’s Advanced Handler Course — the youngest dog to ever receive the award. Heiko and Twomey exceled as a team, certifying twice as a Master Handler Team, the highest qualification available to tracking teams in Washington state.
After Twomey was promoted to sergeant in April 2015, Heiko was assigned to deputy Aaron Baker, a long-tenured member of KCSO’s K-9 unit. The pair certified as a Master Handler team two more times and continued the “torrid pace of catching bad guys,” the KCSO Facebook post states.
Baker and Heiko were popular figures while appearing before community groups. The pair toured schools, youth groups, fairs and appeared at gatherings to educate the public about the K-9 unit and its value to the public.
Throughout Heiko’s nine-year career, he was responsible for locating and arresting suspects numbering into the hundreds, according to KCSO. He also located numerous discarded firearms hidden or tossed by fleeing suspects and recovered thousands of dollars in stolen property through his tracking skills and “exceptional nose.”
On a lighter note, Heiko also located deputy Rob Corn’s wedding ring after it was lost going through heavy brush on a track, and he also had an affinity for chewing traffic cones, which led to two (lighthearted) written reprimands in his file.