10-year-old dog gone following police retirement

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Jupp, Cape GirardeauBy Andrea L. Buchanan ~ Southeast Missourian

While Cpl. Dennis Horn adjusts to working the night patrol alone, his partner will learn how to live a life of leisure.

Driving the city streets without an enormous shaggy head hanging over his shoulder will take some getting used to for Horn, because Jupp, the city's K-9 officer, has retired from active duty.

Monday was Horn's first night patrol without a partner in nearly eight years.

"It's probably going to be kind of lonely with nobody to talk to," Horn said.

Without Jupp, pronounced "yup," Cape Girardeau no longer has an active police dog and is left scrambling to find the money to buy a new one. Police chief Steve Strong said the loss took the department by surprise.

Jupp was retired abruptly from patrol work after a physical evaluation last week showed the dog was in danger of injuring himself.

"We knew he was getting older, we just didn't know he would be off-duty immediately," he said.

Jupp is 10 years old. Most police dogs retire by the time they're 8, Strong said.

There's no money in the budget to replace Jupp. It will take about $9,000 to pay for a new dog, its training and updated equipment for the K-9 patrol unit.

The department also must find a new K-9 officer. Horn, promoted recently to corporal, is taking over patrol commander duties and won't have the time to devote to a new partner. He began Cape Girardeau's K-9 program in 1991.

"I'm sure I'll miss it, but after 14 years I'm ready to move on," Horn said.

Drug dog

Cross-trained in police protection, drug searches and tracking, Jupp has participated in many busts over the course of his career. His nose, nearly 8,000 times more powerful than his human counterpart's, has come in handy.

He was particularly instrumental in "Operation Safe Streets," a major anti-drug campaign initiated in 1996 to target street drug peddlers.

Horn said Jupp won't be remembered for a single spectacular case, rather his daily work ethic.

"He's got amazing drive," Horn said, "He goes to work every day like it's his first day, and I'm like, 'Slow down buddy, I need coffee.'"

But trainer Mike Ervin said arthritis is setting in, making it difficult for Jupp to get in and out of vehicles and stand on his hind legs during searches.

"He's got the heart, but his body is giving out," Ervin said.

Jupp's arthritic hips can't take 12-hour shifts in a patrol car. Running is also hard on him, and slick floors are especially hazardous.

Retirement is an adjustment for the dogs who love to work, Ervin said, but extra attention at home will make it easier, he said.

The dog will continue to live with Horn and perhaps do some demonstrations, but his patrol days are over.

Strong said he'll have to rely on private donations to get a new dog and has begun fund-raising efforts in that direction. Private gifts purchased a bullet-proof vest for Jupp, which will be passed on to the new dog.

European imports

The best police dogs generally are imported from Eastern Europe, an area known for its strict breeding standards. Jupp was purchased from a breeder in Czechoslovakia and his predecessor, Greif, was from Germany.

Injuries forced Greif into early retirement in 1994 when he was struck by a car and had to have a leg amputated. He lived with Horn until he died in 1998, nearly 13 years old.

Cape Girardeau Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said he hopes the police department is able to replace Jupp soon.

"I'm sorry to hear that Jupp is retiring," Swingle said. He said the drug dogs have become an invaluable part of daily police work, particularly in obtaining search warrants.

They're so reliable that when a well-trained drug dog has a positive alert on a car or outside the door of a home, that's enough probable cause for officers to obtain a search warrant, Swingle said.

And evidence obtained under those warrants almost always hold up in court, he said.

The area won't be without drug dogs entirely. Stadt, Jackson's 8-year-old police dog, is still on active duty, but will probably retire in April. The department has made plans to get a new dog at that time.

Also available is Ado, from Missouri Highway Patrol's Troop E K-9 unit.

abuchanan@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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