Nitro, the Aberdeen K-9 dog that put the fear in criminals but became a champion of the community, will retire in the next few weeks.
This time, the German shepherd will leave on his own, retiring to owner and partner Steve Timmons’ home. Back in May of 2009, Nitro had been laid off by the Aberdeen Police Department, a victim of budget cuts. But the community rallied around the dog and helped raise the funding to bring Nitro back to the force. The Seattle-based Tamaki Foundation has been funding the K-9 program ever since.
In fact, the Tamaki Foundation has committed to funding a new dog for the next four years.
“It’s going to be different, but Nitro deserves a comfortable retirement,” Timmons said on Wednesday. “He gets tired more easily and needs to take more breaks. He’s worked hard these past eight years.”
Nitro will be 10 years old in March.
Nitro and Timmons were partnered up in 2005. Just last year, Nitro was honored with a master’s certification, performing above and beyond the State of Washington’s standards for police dogs.
Nitro was born in Germany and all of his commands had been given to him in German before coming to the United States. He was trained for about a year at the Landheim Training Academy in Dyer, Ind. Timmons traveled there and was trained for about six weeks.
When the K-9 program was suspended back in May of 2009, Timmons kept going to work. Nitro kept going to the door expecting to go with Timmons, and was confused as to why he had to stay home.
Timmons suspects Nitro will be confused this time around but he should get comfortable in due time.
The cost of Aberdeen’s K-9 program is about $12,000 to $15,000 a year, and the city simply couldn’t afford the extra expenses, Torgerson said.
“This community really stepped up and the Tamaki Foundation has been invaluable ever since,” Torgerson said.
There were individual donations valued at more than $13,500, plus the Tamaki Foundation donated another $43,500, enough to pay for Nitro and a fancy new K-9-oriented patrol car with special sensors that lower the windows when it gets too hot and sound the horn and notify Timmons to come take care of the dog. There’s a special “kennel” that has taken over the backseat of the car, specially designed for a K-9 dog can be comfortable.
Torgerson said that the Tamaki Foundation has agreed to cover $35,223 to cover the cost of training the new dog and maintenance for the dog, as well as $15,000 per year for 2014 through 2016. The car, kennel and even a bullet-proof vest bought for Nitro will be transferable to the new dog.
Torgerson said he opened up applications for anyone in the department to get the new dog. Timmons applied for the spot again and will get a second dog.
“I think Steve has done a fabulous job as our K-9 officer,” Chief Torgerson said.
“This has been the most exciting thing I’ve done in my career,” Timmons said. “I’ve constantly been learning new things. I’m no longer just a rookie handler and I’m looking forward to keeping Nitro at home and having a new partner, as well.”
“The real challenge will be when Nitro is face to face with the new dog, who we expect will also be a German shepherd,” said Deputy Chief Dave Timmons, who is Steve’s uncle. “I suspect there will be a bit of an alpha dog challenge that will happen here.”
“That’s going to be a challenge for sure, but I think we can work it out,” Steve added.
Chief Torgerson noted that Nitro had his own cancer scare, but survived. He notes a happy and retired Nitro should be celebrated, especially since the K-9 dog Enno in neighboring Hoquiam is still fighting cancer.