Dogs in general are wonderfully loyal creatures, but police dogs in particular are spectacular examples of the species. Everyone (except perhaps the bad guys) loves the police dogs. Children want to pet them, while adults watch in awe as they demonstrate their athletic prowess. And while much is often said regarding their training, abilities, lineage, accomplishments — and even their handlers — the essential and sometimes critical behind-the-scenes veterinary care that they receive is all too often overlooked.
The Kingsport Police Department recently took steps to correct this oversight. At the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting on Jan. 17, Dr. Michael A. “Andy” Cherry and Cherry Point Animal Hospital were officially given the credit and recognition they have so diligently earned and so rightfully deserve.
Alderman Tom Parham presented Cherry with a proclamation and Chief David Quillin presented him with a plaque in honor of the outstanding veterinary care, attention and support provided to the dogs currently serving with the Kingsport Police Department K-9 Unit, as well as several retired dogs still residing with their former handlers.
For approximately the past five years, Cherry has truly gone above and beyond, making himself available outside of regular business hours on several occasions. His dedication to the KPD K-9 Unit and the superior level of care provided by Cherry Point Animal Hospital have been nothing short of phenomenal and are greatly appreciated.
Quillin, a former K-9 handler himself, is often heard reminiscing about his days serving in the K-9 Unit in the late 1980s to early 1990s with his partner Wolf, calling the time one of the highlights of his law enforcement career. During his time at KPD prior to being elected as Sullivan County sheriff, Wayne Anderson also served extensively in the KPD K-9 Unit alongside partners Whitey, Major, Betsy and Ike.
All of KPD’s current K-9s are considered dual-purpose dogs, meaning they are cross-trained in both patrol (apprehension, tracking, article and building search, personal protection, agility, etc.) and detection (of either narcotics or explosives). Dual-purpose dogs require extensive initial and ongoing training in order to keep their abilities sharp and maintain required certifications. All KPD K-9s and their handlers maintain annual certification through either the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) or the North American Police Working Dog Association (NAPWDA).
Upon the recent retirement of K-9 Axyl, the Kingsport Police Department is currently in the process of selecting and acquiring his replacement. After partnering with two consecutive dogs, Axyl’s former handler, Officer Brian Taylor, has returned to regular duties in the KPD Patrol Division, while Officer Caleb Clawson has been selected to handle the next dog to soon join the ranks of the K-9 Unit.
And here's a tidbit of KPD historical trivia in honor of the city of Kingsport’s centennial year: The first two dogs to serve in the Kingsport Police Department K-9 Unit in 1969 had rather tough and menacing sounding names: Apache and Satan. They were handled by former Officers Elmer Reed and Glen Shumate, respectively.
Tom Patton serves as Public Information Officer for the Kingsport Police Department.