WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Members of the Wilmington Police Department gathered Wednesday to remember one of their own.
Arko, 11, was euthanized in January because of a medical condition. His handler, Officer Kirti Vithalani, was very emotional as others shared memories of the K9 officer.
"This beautiful monarch butterfly flies in front of him, and Arko, in mid-air with a little Lebron James and Matrix action, does a 180 in the air, disregards the hurtle, and chases after the butterfly," Deputy Jason Cummings remembered.
Arko was purchased in April 2005 through a donation of $5,000, and in June 2005, he started working the streets of Wilmington.
"They're loyal, dedicated animals that put their lives…on the line," Chief Ralph Evangelous said. "Today, we bid a sad farewell and celebrate the service of one of our own."
Arko was the first WPD K9 officer to be certified in expert tracking by the USPCA. Through the years, Arko accrued a number of awards and honorable mentions for his patrol and detective work.
"Our lives today are better because of Arko, and we will miss him and his presence," Chief Evangelous said.
Arko had close to 1,300 deployments during his career, assisted state, local and federal agencies in making 240 apprehensions, and helped seize $2 million worth of narcotics and cash, according to Chief Evangelous.
"More than likely the dog has protected at least the majority of us in this room just by sheer presence. He's an intimidating force," Deputy Cummings said.
Arko was set to retire in February and was behind a number of drug busts and numerous arrests.
"Certain dogs come along…and you recognize this is a very, very special police dog. All of them are great, but, this one, we will not be able to." Deputy Cummings said. "He did his job, he did it well, and he brought Kirti home every single night."
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