Two K-9s were given a swearing-in ceremony and will now hit the streets with Goose Creek police. One is a spunky, first-timer, the other is an experienced worker with a backstory that could be spun into a Disney movie.
Gracie is a six-year-old female Dutch Shepherd and Rizen is a three-year-old male, Belgium Shepherd mix. On Monday Nov. 4, they officially started work with the city.
“They are an incredible asset to the department and to the city,” said Police Chief, L J Roscoe, after the swearing in ceremony. The symbolic event even included a bible and paw-print signatures in ink, all meant to reinforce the importance of the work the animals will do.
“They are part of our team and they should be treated like any other officer here at the department,” said Roscoe.
Both K-9s have gone through a lot of training and so have their handlers. Each officer had to do six weeks of training to get to this point. The animals will be used on patrol calls when officers need additional help with things like tracking suspects and drug detection. These are not your typical family pets and it is now a unique, full-time commitment for the officers.
“He is a working dog and he reminds me every day he is a working dog,” said Patrolman, Hunter Carter who is Rizen’s hander.
“Over time we’re going to be pretty close. I have had him for about three and a half months now and we’ve already bonded a lot and it just seems to grow every day,” he said. “The more we train the more we work together; the more he relies on me the more I rely on him.”
Like Rizen, K-9 Gracie is bred specifically for police and military work and they have a much different disposition than the average family dog.
“She’s great for running around cars, tracking, all the things we can put her to work doing and she’s happy to do it every day,” said Goose Creek Patrolman Christine Johnson who is Gracie’s handler.
“It just been incredible having her, it’s been an absolute blessing; she’s got experience so she knows what she’s doing, so it’s just me keeping up with her,” said Johnson.
But before Patrolman Johnson and Gracie crossed paths, the K-9’s life was much different. After arriving in the U.S. from Poland, Gracie was mistreated by a previous agency within the state.
She ended up at Furlife, German Shepherd Rescue in Huger, SC. She arrived neglected and malnourished, with her best days, more-than-likely, behind her—then, the shelter reached out to the chief.
“They knew the dog wouldn’t be suitable to a person to just to be a pet,” (…) “They contacted me and said ‘Hey we’ve got this dog she’s previously been assigned to a police department, I would like to donate her to you if you would be willing to accept her,’” said Roscoe.
Before taking on Gracie the chief wanted to make sure the animal was ready and willing. She made a visit to an evidence locker and then, off to the shelter.
“I went out and I took some drugs with me and I tested her on some drugs and she did a great job and I contacted officer Johnson and said, ‘Are you ready?’”
The rest is history. While officer Johnson got the training needed to be a handler, she also worked to rehabilitate her new K-9 partner back to health and back to work. The two additional K-9s makes four now working at the department.