OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The city of Ocean Springs' only K-9 officer is about to retire.
Max, the 7-year-old yellow lab, makes his presence felt with a booming bark, even when he can't be seen. When he does show up, his special skills are put to good use.
Patrolman Patrick Brandle is his handler and partner.
"He detects the odor of narcotics, just about every narcotic you can think of," Brandle said. "He's also a tracking dog. He's able to track when children, or senior citizens, or elderly people might wander off into the woods and get lost."
Brandle and Max have been partners for three years, and have solved dozens of crimes together. But Max is getting up there in dog years, and according to Brandle, it's time for a new home.
"I've talked with two different parties that I'm looking at to adopt Max. Good homes for him where he can just go be a dog and go play out in the yard and not have to worry about looking for bad guys anymore. He's paid his dues."
Brandle said K-9 officers are a key player in law enforcement.
"The K-9s are an absolute necessary tool for us to do our jobs. The type of criminals that we do come into contact with, a lot of them are conducting felonious activity."
Even though Max is going to retire to a life of leisure and plenty of dog biscuits with a friendly family, his replacement is not going to come cheap. These dogs are specially trained and have special working habits.
"Trained K-9s... depending on their abilities, make and model so to speak, their breed and what they are trained in... you're looking at the low end, about $7,500 on up to $15,000."
Despite the cost, the K-9 officers give us all something that money can't buy, peace of mind.
Because of budget issues, the city of Ocean Springs won't be able to pay for a replacement for Max. That's why the public is being asked to help with fundraising. If you'd like to help, just mail a check to the Ocean Springs Police Department Reserve Unit, or drop off a donation at the downtown police station.