Police dogs play an indispensable role within any police department, undertaking crucial tasks such as locating missing individuals. These canine officers are not only viewed as colleagues but also cherished as pets by their human counterparts.
When the inevitable moment arrives for these dedicated dogs to pass over the rainbow bridge, they deserve a farewell that acknowledges their years of hard work and heroism.
This was precisely the tribute given to a terminally ill K9, receiving a poignant final salute from fellow officers. Candy, a German Shepherd, had been an integral part of the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office since 2014, serving as their inaugural narcotics detection dog. Throughout her nearly decade-long tenure, she executed over 2,900 operational searches, contributing to the seizure of 278 pounds of illegal narcotics, as reported by the sheriff’s office.
Candy shared a profound connection with her handler, Master Deputy II Anthony “Tony” Natalzia. According to Natalzia, “She went everywhere with me. You see these dogs more than you see your family.”
However, a noticeable change occurred as the 11-year-old dog started slowing down. Candy developed a limp and lost her appetite. Concerned for her well-being, Natalzia took her to the vet, only to receive devastating news—Candy had cancer that had metastasized throughout her body.
“It was in her lungs, it was everywhere,” Natalzia recounted. “The vet said there was nothing they could do, and I couldn’t even comprehend it—we had only gone for a routine visit.”
As the terminal cancer progressed, Natalzia recognized the humane course of action was to take Candy to the vet for euthanasia. However, before bidding farewell, the beloved dog had the opportunity to say her final goodbyes to her police colleagues.
On Monday, a ceremonial final walkout was organized for Candy, with officers lining the halls of the Virginia Beach Correctional Center and saluting the retiring K9 as she departed from duty for the last time. The emotional impact of the moment was evident, with many officers visibly moved as they bid their final farewell.
Throughout the poignant procession, Candy clutched her favorite tennis ball. Following the walkout, Natalzia drove Candy to the vet, where she peacefully crossed the rainbow bridge.