Camden Police department
K-9 Unit

The Camden Police has had K-9 units at different periods in its long and distinguished history. The unit was formed after William Neale was appointed Chief of Police on August 1, 1960. The K-9 Unit was first commanded by Sergeant Carmin Fuscellaro Jr., who was killed in the line of duty in February of 1961. For the next 20 years the K-9 unit served the citizenry of Camden. The unit was disbanded due for budgetary reasons in 1981.

In the 1970s the old municipal sewage treatment plant on Farragut Avenue and North 32nd Street in Cramer Hill was converted into a headquarters for the K-9 unit.

Thanks to retired Camden Police Department K-9 officers Bob Nelson and Larry Worrell, retired Camden Police officer Charles Kocher, and Camden Fire Department photographer Bob Bartosz, and Dusty Simon for their help in creating this page. 

A History of Camden's first K-9 Units

Chief William Neale gave the go ahead for the K-9 in 1960. Carmin "Fuzzy" Fuscellaro was the first Sergeant to set things up. They were first located at South 10th Street and Newton Avenue in the old Public Service Garage behind the Patrol Division also located there. Some referred to it as the Police Garage. The officers did the majority of the work as their talent was relentless with Dave Newberry, Ray Paradise and others all kicking in and building the facility.

The biggest hurdle was winning public support for the Unit. The picture of the Jay-walking program was an idea of Walt Busko. Busko obtained some bed sheets and had Camden Police Officer Anthony Martino senior paint "Do not Jaywalk": on the sides in front of Lit Bros. You can see a little of Officer Martino's artwork in the display window of Lit Bros. behind the officers. Bill Latham was another great handler in the picture. 

Chief William Neale deserves the credit for having the wisdom and foresight to start the K-9, police academy, juvenile bureau, traffic and accident investigation units within the department.  All became well respected on the East Coast! I remember Bill Neale telling me that there was only a handful of police departments willing to use K-9 dogs at that time because of the aggressive nature of the crowd control element. Later, detection for humans and bombs gave a more favorable appearance. Note Chris Yeager's bloodhound.  

The officers are still wearing the Wool Coats. The original coast were called "Potato sacks" because they were so long. The K-9, cut them to car length. The leather jackets were then implemented because of the hair from the K-9 dogs. Officer Walter Busko found a north North Jersey company that provided the jackets for $35.00 each.  Boy, did that wool smell when it was wet!  

Later,  the entire police department adopted the leather jackets after a series of options were presented to the officers and by 1968 everyone switched to leather jackets from the former blouse jackets and wool coats. This was the turning point for the 8-point hat to the round trooper styled hat as well. The Gray shirts remained but the navy tie was changed to Nicholson blue to match the stripe on the pants. Later the shirt color changed in 1972,  to Navy blue following the disturbances experienced in the city.   The K-0 brought the Ascots back in Nicholson Blue later and can be seen in some of the pictures with Bob Nelson and Joseph Richardson.  

 In the background of one of your photos,  we see Inspector Yeager and  Inspector Watson.  Public displays were common to win the support of the public for the K-9's and what they could do.  The first police vehicle was a red Ford Falcon station wagon. No air conditioning. Philadelphia vehicles were also red at the time. We have come a long way. 

The K-9 first K-9 unit was disbanded for manpower needs and overall cost of the kennels in the mid-1960s. The city decided to bring in a Public Safety Director, a retired State Police Sergeant, Keith Kauffman.

Most of the K-9 officers ended up as juvenile or adult detective bureau so there was no big return to patrol each time they disbanded.  Ray Paradise was always the "builder," and Walt Busko ran the juvenile bureau for years; Bill Latham went to the Bureau for a great career, John Aversa was promoted to sergeant and ended up in Communications and so on.  We see the same thing with the Warren Worrell and Gary Miller era after they disbanded that group.

Eventually the unit was started again with different units (SRD, SRB) at South 10th Street and Newton Avenue and then disbanded for manpower. Chief Harold Melleby started the unit for a third time at the Farragut Avenue location in Cramer Hill. 

This was not unique to the department. Traffic Bureau met the same fate with different combinations of Traffic and Accident Investigations.  At one point, traffic was part of Identification Bureau and the records were kept in the basement. A grant of Honda motorcycles revised that unit. They were shared by the SRB and ruined by the officers in a very short period of time. But that's another story. Just a little color
background for you. The bottom line for the abandonment each time was a familiar story. Administration did not understand the training needs of the K-9 and on-going training that was necessary. Bill Neale copied a program from New York and later Camden Police trained most of the area police department much like what takes place at the Camden County Police Academy today.

Sergeant Harry Harris brought the pride of the K-9 back to the original unit that I am sure he had known from the earlier years. Camden subscribed to the model of keeping the dogs at a Kennel.  Later, the idea of the handler taking the animals home became popular due to the cost of Kennel maintenance.  Each time, it was the officers that made the units the pride of the department by doing the majority of the work. 

Dr. Charles J. Kocher
December 2010


Sgt. Carmin Fuscellaro Jr. and the Camden Police K-9 Unit
"Don't Jaywalk"

Click on Image to Enlarge

Seattle Daily Times - February 5, 1961

Carmin Fuscellaro Jr. - Dennis Evans - Donald Murphy 

Ken Kruger
of the
Camden Police
K 9 Unit

December 1961

Photo by Bob Bartosz


Sergeant Walter Bosko
of the
Camden Police K9 Unit

December 1961

Photo by Bob Bartosz

K-9 Team
Making Apprehension
Ray Paradise  & George Mahoney 

Policeman and Dog
Partner and Friend

Dave Newberry -1962

Policeman and Dog
Partner and Friend

Dave Newberry

Ed Hahn Jr. & Ray Paradise

Ray Paradise & Timmy 

Camden K-9 Officers and their Dogs

List courtesy of Bob Nelson and Dusty Simon































ED BUSH 1971-72  





WALT BUSKO 1960-66


























































































































John Aversa
Fritz I


Photo by Bob Bartosz


Trenton Evening Times - April 28, 1963

Click on Images for PDF File of Complete Article

Alfred R. Pierce
Edwin Bedell
Albert Hughes
Cooper Hospital
George Pearsall
Washington Street
Camden Police K-9 Unit

Larry Worrell & Pub - 1973

This photo was taken at Police Patrol Headquarters located at 11th Street and Wright Avenue, which was also the K9 Unit's kennels and training facility in the 60's and 70's. The "4" on the front fender is to commemorate the four Camden police officer who had been killed in the line of duty in the years shortly before this picture was taken: Elwood Ridge, Rand Chandler, Charles Sutman, and George Schultz.

- Larry Worrell, December 2010

Frank Crissey & Apache


Bayou the only Blood-Hound in K-9. Handler was Chris Yeager.

1970s - Muggers Beware!
Harry Harris - Westfield Acres

Joe Richardson and his dog Duke

Bob Nelson and Butch, Sgt. Harry "The Hat" Harris during K-9 Demo for school kids.

Tommy Kenuck's dog Bullet

Officer Don Forsyth and his dog Schnitz Officer Tom Kenuk (1950-2000)
and his dog Bullet.

Officer Chris Yeager and his dog Luger Officer Bob Nelson and Butch

Officers Nelson, Yeager, Forsyth, and Kenuk and their dogs, performing obedience training

The K-9 Office being rehabbed.
This office was in one of the buildings in the old sewage plant that the K-9 Unit took over.
In this photo: Tommy Kenuck, Sgt. Harry Harris, Richie Williams

Entrance to the K-9 Office at the old sewer plant on Farragut Avenue

Officer Lawson "Skip" Lamp (1949-1996 ), his dog Kelly, with Sgt. Harry Harris in the Jute Suit

Officer Ronnie Miller and K-9 Banchee, with Sgt. Harris holding the "Bag"

Bob Nelson and Butch doing drug work

Main Kennel inside the old sewage treatment plant

Officer Thomas J. Kenuk

Officer Chris Yeager and kids at a K-9 Demonstration

Through the Window
Officer Thomas Kenuk
Over the Wall
Officer Don Forsythe

Through the Window
Officer Don Forsythe
Officer Lou Pavlick in Jute Suit!

Butch getting the best of Sgt. Harry Harris

Butch and Sgt. Harry Harris... He's trying to get away!!!


Fire Ring - Officer Chris Yeager

Fire Ring - Officer Don Forsythe

Fire Ring - Officer Tommy Kenuk

Officer Lawson "Skip" Lamb and Kelly

Fire Ring - Officer Tommy Kenuk

Getting Sergeant Harry Harris out of the Jute Suit

Kids waiting for a K-9 Demonstration at the main gate, Farragut Avenue & North 32nd Street

Dog runs before concrete had been installed and doorways for the dogs to go inside the building for shelter. Note the dog house at the rear of the run.

The old sewage treatment plant. Once converted, a great place for dogs and handlers

Work then in progress on the inside dog runs


HOBO - 1970

Officer Tom Jamison - April 1971

Camden Courier-Post * December 20 1971
Nero Soon May Bite While Criminals Burn




Marc Toscano & Faust

I just found this old photo of me and the best partner I ever had on the CPD, my K9 "Pub". I think we were having a discussion of where to take our lunch break that night before starting out on our 7pm-3am shift on the old Tac Force Unit. Kaminski's or Donkey's? Always a difficult choice!

Warren Larry Worrell
November 12, 2012

Camden Courier-Post * May 4, 1977
Dog Days for K-9 Corps

Courier-Post staff

 THE CAMDEN Police Department's K-9 Corps, currently being expanded and revitalized, is experiencing growing pains.

Three senior members of the Corps have been transferred to patrol or walking beat duty as the result of a conflict with the Corps' new commander, Sgt. Harry Harris.

One new member was bitten on the hand by the dog he was being trained to handle.

And the K-9 expansion and transfers have rekindled a long-standing feud between Chief Harold Melleby and Deputy Chief Mario J. Ferrari.

The Corps, founded in 1901, has had a checkered history that has taken it to a peak of 18 policeman-dog teams and to a low of zero when it was briefly abolished in 1967.

Following vigorous public protest, it was re-established, but reached another low point in 1974 and 1975. In 1974, the Corps' kennels on Newton Avenue were torn down and the homeless dogs were temporarily housed in a Lindenwold kennel. In 1975, a new city kennel on the grounds of the Baldwin’s Run sewage treatment plant was denounced by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Corps own veterinarian as cramped and disease-producing.

A new spacious kennel was constructed later that year, and last January, Melleby announced that the Corps was being expanded from seven to 12 dogs, and that some of the older dogs approaching 10 years­ would be retired.

The new Corps also would be more specialized, with some dogs trained to sniff out bombs, heroin and mari­juana, Melleby said.

The revitalization under Harris who had been assigned to the Corps on two previous occasions. is now under way.

Four new handler-dog teams have complete training –two in narcotics detection - and five more are taking the 12-week training course, Harris said. There are now a total of 11 teams either in training or having completed it, he said. The marijuana-detecting teams graduated April 29, he said.

The revitalized Corps will work not only in Camden but in departments throughout Camden County upon request to the county prosecutor's Office, Melleby said.

BUT THE CHANGES in the Corps have not been without problems.

Three senior members and their dogs have been transferred out. Patrolmen Dennis Gormley, Ed Jordan and Ronald Miller, who average about six years' experience each on the Corps, have been reassigned. Miller is on regular patrol car duty, and the other two are walking beats.

Miller and Jordan filed a grievance through the Fraternal Order of Police in which they claimed they had been ordered to do construction work at the kennel, allegedly in violation of a city ordinance. Harris and Melleby both refused comment on the reasons for the transfers but the Courier-Post learned that Harris, in requesting the transfers, cited an uncooperative attitude on the part of the men.

Miller's and Jordan's grievances were rejected by their superiors, and they remain on their new assign­ment.

Also, the Courier-Post has obtained a copy of a confidential memorandum. dated April 27. from Ferrari to Melleby.  In the memorandum, Ferrari states his opposition to the expansion of the K-9 Corps and said he would like to see it abolished or at least reduced in scope.

Ferrari termed the K-9 Corps “a luxury we cannot presently afford at the expense of the regular patrol force” and an additional expense to the city that is unnecessary.  He also contended that the presence of K-9s can be construed as inflammatory in any incident that may have racial overtones.

“Any routine incident could become explosive with the employment of K-9s… K-9s have been historically offensive to minority groups who are extremely fearful and sensitive to this form of police action," Ferrari wrote in the memorandum.

The deputy chief also complained in the report that he was not he commands, it falls under him in the chain of command. 

Melleby refused to discuss personnel transfers in the Corps but indicated that Ferrari on occasion has declined to participate in similar decisions.

 "If someone else fails to make a decision, I won’t hesitate to” the chief said. “The work has to be done.”

Harry Harris - Harold Melleby - Vince Buondonno  
Walter Busko - Thomas Kenuk


Courier-Post Staff

Do you have a frisky, young German Shepherd you just can't persuade to leave the shoes, furni­ture, living-room rug and postman's leg alone?

If he or she is one to three years old, purebred and in good condition, the doggie that just isn't for you might be exactly want the Camden Police Department needs.

The department's K-9 Corps, 0n the skids in recent years, is being revived and enlarged.

Sgt. Harry Harris, Commanding the K-9 Division, said Wednesday that the unit will be expanded from its seven dogs to12. He also said the present dogs, with upwards of ten years service each, will be retired shortly.

One additional policeman handler will be added for each dog added, bringing the strength to 12 men. 

Each police dog is trained to respond to only one handler and cannot be used by anyone else.

The K-9 Unit, founded in 1960, numbered 20 dogs and their handlers, Harris said.

However the department de-emphasized the unit several years ago and gave away all but eight dogs. Harris, then the commander was reassigned to patrol duty three years ago when the Newton Avenue kennels were torn down

The K-9 unit reached a low point in 1974 and 1975 when the dogs were housed in rented kennels in Lindenwold and later in cramped cages inside at the Baldwin's Run Sewage Treatment Plant in Cramer Hill.

In January 1975, Dr. SA Fittipaldi, the unit's veterinarian since it was founded, said the dogs would sicken and die unless their living conditions improved.

The SPCA denounced the dogs quarters as "grossly inhumane".

Under this pressure, the city constructed new, indoor-outdoor "runs" to accommodate up to 12 dogs, and the new kennels, also on the Baldwin’s Run grounds, were opened later.  

"The quarter we have now are I better than any we have ever had," Harris said. Harris said “Chief Harold Melleby has decided to strengthen the K-9 Unit because after an extensive evaluation, he believes that the K-9 Corps can assist the work of the department and benefit the public."

Policemen newly assigned to the unit will be chosen from volunteers within the department, and several new handlers are being trained, he said.

Dogs offered by the public to the city will be screened, and those accepted will be trained.

Some of the new dogs will be used for routine patrol or crowd control, but others will be "detective dogs". "We are going to train two dogs for narcotics detection, and two others as bomb detectors," Harris said.      

He noted that the trend in the use of police dogs is towards these more specialized uses. The animals can be taught to sniff out marijuana and other drugs, and also to locale bombs and incendiary devices.

Those with dogs to offer can telephone Harris at the K-9 Unit at 757-7887.  



Camden police department's K9 Sergeant James
demonstrating his partners prowess at the DCCB Youth Summer Bash 
June 6, 2009.

Click HERE to Download the Video

Trenton Evening Times - August 20, 1992
Click on Image for PDF File of Complete Article

Camden Courier-Post * December 6, 2010 

Officers, K-9s share close bond

Courier-Post Staff

For most South Jersey K-9 officers the work doesn't stop when their shift ends.

It goes home with them. It sleeps in their house, chases their kids and paws at the door for a nighttime walk.

The ever-present K-9 becomes a way of life.

"We spend more time with the dog than we do our own family," said Gloucester Township Police Officer and K-9 handler James Clark.

The bond that develops between handler and K-9 grows deep.

It's a bond that officers struggle to explain.

"It's like no other relationship in the world," said former Stafford Township Police Chief Thomas Conroy, a nationally recognized expert in K-9 handling.

That bond, Conroy and other K-9 handlers say, is what makes the Tuesday night death of Gloucester Township Cpl. Mark Pickard's K-9 Schultz even more difficult. Schultz was killed as he attempted to take down a suspected robbery suspect near busy Route 42.

With Schultz latched onto his forearm, 20-year-old Skyler Robinson swung the dog out into the path of oncoming traffic.

Robinson and Evan Scotese, 20, both of the Sewell section in Washington Township, allegedly robbed a nearby Chinese eatery shortly before they were tracked down by the K-9 and Pickard.

Gloucester Township has given Pickard a leave of absence in the wake of the 3 1/2-year-old German Shepherd's death. On Friday Pickard's patrol car sat idle in front of the police headquarters along Chews Landing Road draped in a black sash.

Dozens of bouquets of flowers, several stuffed animals, chew toys and a box of dog bones have been placed around the car by well-wishers.

The loss of Schultz has hit especially hard for those in Gloucester Township but the rare line of duty death of the award-winning K-9 has also had an impact on the tight-knit clique of police K-9 handlers both locally and across the nation.

"It's devastating," Cherry Hill K-9 Officer Kevin Seta, said of Schultz's death. "You know what (Pickard's) relationship with that dog was -- not only his but his family's."

"I can't even imagine the pain. It's a tough thing to hear about."


Brutus walked with a contained energy, his head tilted up, his dark eyes locked on Cpl. James Kaelin as he stuck like glue to the side of his Gloucester Township Police K-9 handler.

With a simple call of "hup . . . hup . . . hup" from Kaelin, Brutus leapt over a series of hurdles at a remote township training facility on Friday. Then, with only the slightest of commands, Kaelin directed Brutus to scramble up a ladder, bound across a narrow platform and crawl under another.

Kaelin and Brutus move through the training course tucked away off of Hickstown Road with an accuracy brought on by countless hours of routine. Kaelin and Pickard, who are certified police canine trainers and have both been with the department's K-9 unit since its inception in 1999, constructed the wooden obstacles themselves.

Aided by the expertise of Conroy; Kaelin, Pickard and Clark trained for some 400 hours on their own time leading up to the U.S. Police Canine Association National Field Trials in October. Pickard and Schultz placed 10th out of more than 100 handlers and K-9s at the competition in Louisiana.

But on Friday it was just Clark and Kaelin running their dogs through the familiar course.

The brief training demonstration complete, Brutus sat and basked in affection as Kaelin knelt down and tussled the K-9's gleaming coat of black fur.

At work, Brutus rides in the back seat of Kaelin's police cruiser.

At night Brutus sleeps in Kaelin's home and even schleps to the shore with the officer and his family for vacations. At home, when Kaelin leaves a room Brutus follows behind.

"It's like a little kid, they are afraid they are going to miss something," Kaelin said of K-9s.

The bond between handler and his dog is one that's first nurtured during training. Per state attorney general guidelines, typical training sessions for patrol dogs in New Jersey are about 16 weeks.

Most police dogs themselves are imported from rich bloodlines in Europe and cost thousands of dollars.

Many K-9s trained for patrol work, which includes everything from tracking to apprehending suspects, are also cross-trained in specialties such as drug or explosives detection.

The earliest stages of training are geared toward building trust between the dog and handler, said Russ Hess, executive director of the USPC.

"They learn to rely on each other," he said.

That trust is later essential in day-to-day police work as K-9 officers are routinely called out at all hours to the most dangerous police assignments.

"The bond between a police officer and his K-9 partner -- there is nothing like it," said Capt. Louis Bordi, head of the Voorhees Police Department's K-9 Unit. "You are trusting that animal with your life and that animal is trusting you with its life. It's pretty amazing."

Police K-9 officers say over time, they learn to read every emotion of their dog and likewise, the K-9 learns to read the mood of its handler.

"They can't speak to you in words but they do speak to you," Seta said of his 9-year-old K-9. "I just look at Boz and I know how he is feeling."

While a police K-9 is ready for battle at a moment's notice while on duty, officers say the fierce complexion melts away after hours.

"For me he's two different dogs," Seta said of Boz. "When he goes to work it's almost like he puts his work face on. But when he is home he is rolling around on the floor just being a dog."

Kaelin and Clark said it was the same way for Pickard and Schultz.

Schultz got along well the Pickard family and followed Pickard wherever he went.

Clark remembered Pickard once told him there was nothing about Schultz he didn't like.

"That's going to be irreplaceable," Clark said.

K-9 brotherhood

When Kaelin learned Schultz had been injured Tuesday night, he made a quick call to a fellow handler before hurrying out to the scene.

The message spread quickly throughout the close knit K-9 handler family.

Before long, nearly 50 K-9 handlers from throughout the area had converged on an area along Church Road in Gloucester Township to assist in any way and to show support for Pickard and his fallen K-9.

"That's the bond in K-9," Clark said. "When something happens, we all come together."

And the support hasn't stopped pouring in.

"I have been getting hammered with e-mails and texts," added Kaelin. "It's unbelievable."

Kaelin and Clark are in the process of planning a Thursday afternoon memorial service for Schultz.

They have heard from K-9 handlers as far away as New York and North Carolina who said they hope to attend.

Lazaro Cabrera, a Florida K-9 handler who placed first in the recent USPC field trial competition, happened to be in South Jersey on Friday.

Cabrera said he wasn't going to leave until he got a chance to first visit with Pickard.

"This is really a hard thing not only for me but for many people in the K-9 industry," he said.

Hess estimates only a handful of K-9s are killed in the line of duty each year. A death brings together an already close brotherhood.

Kaelin said more than many facets of police departments, K-9 units from different agencies train together. And K-9 units from larger townships like Gloucester Township are often called to assist neighboring municipalities.

And it's only the K-9 handlers themselves that fully understand the special bond between officer and dog.

"It's a brotherhood inside of a brotherhood," Bordi said of K-9 officers. "There is always that connection.

"You do as much as you can for a fellow officer who asks for help with something. For a K-9 brother you go the extra mile."

Reach George Mast at (856) 486-2465 at


Camden Courier-Post - February 22, 2012
K-9 Unit in action along Baird Boulevard in an effort to catch the serial rapist
who had already attacked five women in the area of Farnham Park

Camden Courier-Post - May 9, 2012

Cherry Hill police K-9 dies

CHERRY HILL — A police K-9 that worked alongside Cherry Hill police officers for 10 years has died.

Chief Rick Del Campo announced today that K-9 Franko passed away on Tuesday.

Franko retired from the department in April 2010 after working alongside his handler Sgt. Joseph Kelly for 10 years.

Franko came to the department from Czechoslovakia where he was specially bred for police work.

Franko attended the Philadelphia Canine Academy and was a recipient of numerous awards and commendations throughout his term with the department, according to police.

Camden Courier-Post - May 31, 2012

Cpl. Zsakhiem James (center) is 'apprehended' by Patrolman Gabe Rodriguez and his new K-9 partner Serge during a demonstration for students from Sacred Heart School in Camden during the Camden Clean Campaign clean-up day on Wednesday. Serge is the second K-9 officer to be added to the Camden Police Department. Denise Henhoeffer/Courier-Post

Camden Courier-Post - August 11, 2012

City police dog found dead in cruiser
Air conditioning failed, officials say

CAMDEN — Camden police are investigating the death of a K-9 after the dog was found unresponsive in the back of a city police cruiser..

A preliminary investigation indicates K-9 Serge died from heat exposure after the car’s air conditioning malfunctioned, police officials said Friday.

Serge’s handler, Officer Gabriel Rodriguez, found the dog in the cruiser around 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson said. The temperature that day reached a high of 92 degrees shortly before 3 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

“We are extremely saddened by the sudden and unexpected death of K-9 Serge,” Thomson said in an email. “Serge was part of our departmental family and served our community bravely”.

Thomson added that a “comprehensive investigation is under way.”

Additional details were not provided Friday, including any information on where the squad car was parked or how long the dog was in the car.

Serge, a blond German shepherd, had been with the department for only a few months. The dog and Rodriguez were part of a class that graduated in May after 16 weeks of training at a facility in Egg Harbor Township.

Serge was one of at least two active K-9s on Camden’s police roster. Cpl. Zsakheim James has been partnered with Zero for several years. At one point, Camden’s K-9 corps had 20 dogs and trained handlers.

Police had earlier told the Courier-Post the K-9 had already made an impact.

Within the first two weeks of his deployment, Serge was involved in a bank robbery investigation in Mount Ephraim, where he led police to clothing and a backpack that had apparently been ditched by the robber.

Serge was scheduled to return to school, police said, this time for narcotics- detection training.

In July 2009, a police K-9 also died in Mount Holly after being left in a vehicle by an officer. The dog, Patton, was supposed to be picked up by the officer’s husband, but he was delayed and the vehicle’s air conditioning cut out.

The officer was accused of animal cruelty but the charge was dismissed when her husband accepted responsibility for the 5-year-old golden retriever’s death.

K-9s also have died while on duty in two South Jersey towns.

In Gloucester Township, Schultz died in November 2010 when a robbery suspect allegedly threw him into traffic on Route 42. Authorities said the 3½-year-old German shepherd and his handler had tracked Skyler Robinson of Washington Township to an embankment near the highway, when the incident occurred.

A K-9 in Vineland was killed in October 2011 while the dog and a handler were searching for a burglary suspect before dawn. An elderly driver swerved around an officer walking along the shoulder of a road before dawn and struck the dog, Clif, on a nearby lawn.

A K-9 also died June 24 in Millville, where a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois was found dead in a kennel behind an officer’s home. The cause of death in that incident is not yet known.


Camden Courier-Post - August 14, 2012

Camden police blame car malfunction in K-9's death

CAMDEN — Police revealed Monday that an in-car alarm system never sounded last week when temperatures in a squad car skyrocketed, killing a department K-9.

Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson said that after the squad car’s air conditioning malfunctioned Thursday morning, an alarm system also failed as temperatures in the car rose.

The alarm should have alerted Patrolman Gabriel Rodriguez that his car, with K-9 Serge inside, was overheating in the department parking lot, and the system should have turned on a fan and automatically rolled down the vehicle’s windows. A heat sensor is supposed to activate the alarm at 85 degrees.

But none of that happened. When Rodriguez went out to his car two hours later, Serge was unresponsive.

“We had failures of the vehicle and the (alarm) system,” Thomson said. “We have an independent mechanic coming in to examine this.

“We want to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. If there is some type of deficiency with the system, we want the K-9 community across the United States to be aware of it.”

While an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Serge’s death is continuing, Thomson said Monday that the two-hour period for which Rodriguez left Serge in the car is not uncommon.

Between the alarm system and specialized kennel in the police car, Thomson said, the upgrades to Rodriguez’s patrol car cost about $3,000.

“It’s not like it was just a regular police car,” he said.

Thomson said all squad cars, including the K-9 vehicles, are required to be inspected before each tour of duty by the officer.

While noting that the dog’s death has an effect on the whole department and community at large, Thomson assured that no one is feeling the pain more than the officer himself.

“There is an inseparable bond that is created between the K-9 and its handler,” Thomson said. “There is nobody that is more devastated than Officer Rodriguez and his family. These dogs go home with them and become part of the officer’s family as well.

Serge, a German shepherd, had been with the department for only a few months.

Serge and Rodriguez were part of the 38th class of the Atlantic County Police Training Center, which graduated in May following 16 weeks of training.

Serge was one of two active K-9s on Camden’s police roster.

Cpl. Zsakheim James has been partnered with Zero for a number of years.

Gloucester Township Police Capt. Anthony Minosse said the department’s K-9 handlers have tested out their own heat alarm systems in the wake of Serge’s death. Minosse said he’s also looking into updating the alarm systems, which have similar functions to Camden’s.

“It’s unfortunate when you have a tragedy like that,” he said. “It’s just sad.”

Russ Hess, executive director of the United States Police K-9 Association, said the vehicle alarm systems have helped to reduce the number of deaths like Serge’s.

“As time evolves and technology increases, the safeguards are going to be more prevalent,” Hess said.

Hess said even if the systems cost a few thousand dollars, they are far less than replacing a K-9, which can cost between $5,000 to $15,000 to purchase and train.

Still, even with new technologies, the deaths do occur.

Serge’s death marked at least the fourth K-9 across the country to die inside a police vehicle from heat exposure since late July. In Texas, two K-9s died after being left in a police vehicle overnight.

Serge’s death is the fifth in South Jersey since 2009.

In Mount Holly, Patton, a golden retriever, died after being left in a car in 2009. In Gloucester Township, Schultz, a German shepherd, died when a robbery suspect allegedly threw him into traffic on Route 42 in 2010. In Vineland, Clif was struck by an elderly driver who swerved around an officer walking along the shoulder of a road last year. And in Millville, on June 24, Treu, a Belgian Malinois, was found dead in a kennel behind an officer’s home.


February 10, 2014