RIO GRANDE — After roughly seven years of law enforcement service, Rio Grande Police Department’s canine unit Smilla, oftentimes just called “Milla,” was retired Tuesday evening by the Village of Rio Grande and sold for a dollar into the care of her law enforcement partner, RGPD Police Chief Josh Davies.
Members of the Gallia law enforcement community and area residents visited the Rio Grande Village Building Tuesday evening to bid Smilla well on her retirement.
“I appreciate what you’ve all offered,” said Davies to his colleagues in law enforcement. “(Smilla) has been an asset to the community and a positive influence. She’s built a lot of bridges between law enforcement and kids because they all know her. They know who I am because of my dog. We’ve had great and successful cases.”
Smilla started with RGPD June 2012. She was purchased and trained through Pine Grove Kennels in Meigs County.
“We originally certified in tracking and narcotics and area searches, ”said Davies. “The November of that year, we went back to train for bite work and she’s been with us until, today…She was 11 months-old when we started…There’s no ballpark figure I can give for how many cases we’ve worked. I’ve been in Gallia, Jackson, Meigs and Mason County in West Virginia. We’ve been all the way up into the Parkersburg area doing work. We’ve a good connection with other departments in the area and would get called out pretty frequent to help.”
Davies said his favorite parts of working with Smilla included “cleaning up our streets of drugs” and “going to the schools and (having) positive interaction with the kids in our community and not just Rio but all Gallia.”
Smilla, a German Shepherd, was noted by the chief to have been a “social dog” and was recognized throughout the county as she and Davies took part in camps, community events and other demonstrations. She was originally purchased for RGPD through donations.
Dr. Brian Hendrickson, of Riverbend Animal Clinic and Smilla’s veterinarian, said the canine had been fortunate in her life and only had a handful of problems. Smilla had once gotten into a 40-pound bag of dog food, said both the chief and the veterinarian, and had to have her stomach pumped from consuming it all.
“She woke up hungry that day,” said Hendrickson.
After a brief word from the chief and Rio Grande mayor, visitors waited in the village building’s council room to listen to Smilla’s last radio sign-off.
“Milla has been an invaluable resource, not only for crime prevention,” said Rio Grande Mayor Matt Easter,” but also for PR purposes and building community relations.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342.