• 32°

Walmart helps replace retiring K-9 officer

NATCHEZ — When Natchez Police Department officer Brian Seyfarth goes to work, he feels half-dressed.

For four years Seyfarth has been a K-9 officer with the Natchez Police Department, but for the last eight months, he’s been missing his partner.

“When I would grab this gun belt and put it on to go to work, he’d be at the door ready to go,” he said. “It is heartbreaking that he isn’t able to work anymore, but he is living the good life now.”

Seyfarth’s canine companion Rex was retired, and the department is now in the process of raising money to replace Seyfarth’s partner.

“It just doesn’t feel quite right to not have a dog with me,” he said. “He depends on me for his food, his water, his medicines, all of his care, but when we are working, I depend on him.”

Walmart made a $1,000 donation to help the department raise the $8,900 it needs to purchase the dog and pay for the training for the dog and Seyfarth. The donation brings the total raised to approximately $1,800.

The $8,900 pays for the German shepherd, the dog’s training at a training facility in Tulsa, Okla., and the officer’s training with the dog at the facility.

Police Chief Mike Mullins said it takes approximately five weeks once the dog is purchased to have it on the streets of Natchez.

Currently the NPD has one K-9 unit, officer Shawn King and Ajax, but Police Chief Mike Mullins said with having two units on the street is a vital resource for the community.

“We need to have a K-9 unit on the street all the time and having two dogs will make that more possible,” he said.

The dogs are used heavily in traffic stops because they can smell what officers can’t see.

“The Supreme Court allows for the dogs to circle the car without probable cause,” Mullins said. “If the dog hits on something, then the officers can search the vehicle.”

The dogs are trained to do drug work, tracking, criminal apprehension and a variety of other tasks that assist the department’s officers in crime prevention and investigation, Seyfarth said.

“If a suspect is running through the woods and throws a bag of something or tosses a gun, the dog can recover that article in the woods,” he said.

But it isn’t just criminals that the dogs are after. Seyfarth said the dogs can be called in to help track children or others that are lost.

“You don’t really think about that side of the K-9 officer until it is your child or loved one that is lost in the woods,” he said.

Donations for the K-9 fund can be sent from businesses or individuals and can be mailed or dropped off at the Natchez Police Department at 233 D’Evereux Drive.