The Marshalltown Police Department said goodbye to one of its own Thursday afternoon after Creasy, one of the department's two K-9 officers, was forced to retire after facing health issues for the past several months.
The K-9 - handled by Officer Kiel Stevenson - was on the job earlier this year when he suddenly collapsed. Stevenson rushed Creasy to the veterinarians office, where he was then sent to Iowa State University in Ames for further treatment. Doctors at the university concluded Creasy had suffered an embolism on his spine which led to partial paralysis of the dog's body.
"It's really a sad thing for the department," Police Chief Mike Tupper said about the retirement. "On one hand, Creasy had recovered enough physically to maintain a good quality of life, but couldn't go on as a service dog."
T-R FILE PHOTO
In this 2011 file photo, Creasy is shown at a Marshalltown City Council meeting. His retirement was announced Thursday afternoon after facing health issues since the beginning of the year.
The loss of Creasy - who has served on the department for three years - now leaves the MPD with only one other K-9 unit, Awol, handled by K-9 Supervisor Sergeant Melinda Ruopp, and Ruopp said the loss is a substantial one.
"We're cutting our unit in half now," Ruopp said. "We' can't cover near the amount of time that we were able to with Creasy. We used to be able to cover 16 hours a day and now it's dropping down to eight, so it definitely has an impact."
Tupper said Officer Stevenson is handling the retirement of Creasy pretty well, and he wants the community to know that Creasy is not being put to sleep. Plans are actually underway for Stevenson to purchase the dog from the city now that he has retired. Stevenson will go in front of the city council on Monday about the issue.
"Kiel has been a wonderful K-9 handler for the department," Tupper said. "The dog kind of becomes part of your family, and that's why the handler has the option of buying it for $1 from the city."
While the remaining K-9 officer, Awol, also faces health problems in his older years, Tupper said, the PD is going to look at the K-9 program and see what needs to be done.
"I'm ballparking this, but the cost for just the dog and the training is around $25,000," Tupper said. "One of our K-9 vehicles is also on its last leg as well, so there's another $35,000 to $40,000 on top of the cost of the dog. We just have to take a look at everything at this point."
Ruopp said the PD is currently taking donations and is in the process of figuring out fundraising efforts for the new K-9 officer, and said people are welcome to send donations to the PD or bring them in.
"We've been accepting donations for Creasy, and those will all go toward the new dog," Ruopp said. "Anyone is welcome to give a donation. We've been really fortunate that the community has stepped up and helped out in this situation and I know the community will continue to support us."