Rex the K-9 retires from Long Beach Police Department
By Lindy Sholes
The Long Beach Police Department is saying goodbye to its hairiest servant. Rex the K-9 service dog, a German Shepherd, is retiring.
Rex, the only K-9 on the force, has been serving the city of Long Beach for eight-and-a-half of his ten years of life.
“He is at a point now where he is having difficulty making success in his mandatory training,” said Mayor George Bass at the April 7 Board of Aldermen meeting. “We understand we can become awfully tired the older we get.”
The Board voted to declare Rex surplus city property, which will allow his only handler, Sgt. Carl Taylor, to continue to take care of him.
Taylor said Rex was bought from US K9 Unlimited in Kaplan, Louisiana, where he was trained after being imported from Holland. He served several purposes during his time on the force, Taylor said, including odor detection (drug sniffing), tracking persons, area and article searches, and handler protection.
“The proudest moment I ever had with Rex was the evening after the Hancock Bank on Beatline Road was robbed,” said Sgt. Taylor. “We were asked to search A Avenue (an article search) in its entirety for shell casings that may have been ejected while the suspects were firing at witnesses that were following them. Rex found one of the casings on the roadside after only a short time, something that would have taken multiple officers hours to locate, had it not been for him.”
Taylor said he does not plan to work with the next K-9.
“It is time to pass the torch on to someone else and let them have the fun and experience that comes with being a K-9 handler,” he said.
He does, however, think that Rex will retain some of the training he received when he becomes a full-time stay-at-home dog.
“I am almost positive when he hears sirens or commotion that he will likely perk up as if he had never retired,” Taylor said, adding that there is not a retirement party planned, “however, a very large steak is in the works for him.”
Mayor Bass said it will cost $17,700 to replace Rex, which is not in the budget for this year, but the department anticipates some staff vacancies that will cover Rex’s replacement.
Taylor said K-9 training times can vary based on the maturity of the dog, usually taking six months to two years to complete.