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A Talk on the Wild Side.

When a Law Enforcement K-9 Retires

 Rudi and Federal Canine Officer Darryn Witt   Federal Canine Officer Darryn Witt and Rudi. All photos courtesy Darryn Witt

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes care of those who provide public safety on the lands and waters it manages when retirement comes -- and that includes its four-legged corps.

So when the decision was made to retire 10-year-old K-9 Rudi, Federal Canine Officer Darryn Witt began to search for the perfect situation for the Belgian malinois, who had been his partner for eight years on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. Rudi, who retired in February, is as happy and healthy and motivated as ever, says Witt, but at age 10, the dog “has earned” retirement.    

 Rudi in his patrol vehicle
  Rudi in his patrol vehicle.

“Rudi has been with me every minute of every workday,” says Witt. “We interacted with thousands of fishermen and hunters. Rudi made several cases by locating where game had been stashed and finding key pieces of evidence, like shell casings. 

 Rudi   emerging from water with bird in mouthRudi brings in a bird.

I was anxious about Rudi retiring from an action-packed career to stay at home with nothing to do,” said Witt, who is now the Service’s national canine coordinator.

RUDI AT WORK: Federal Wildlife Canine Sniffs Out Trouble

The answer to Rudi’s future came when Witt saw the 200-acre Rocking W cattle ranch in Cooper, Texas. “As it happened, Bob Welch, the owner, was looking for a working dog as a companion and to watch over his ranch,” Witt recalls. Bob had worked with dogs during his years as a veterinarian corps officer with the U.S. Air Force.  

 Rudi  with new companion Rudi with his new companion.

Rudi’s new responsibilities include riding around the ranch with Bob to check on cattle and being a companion to Bob’s 14-year-old daughter. Rudi even gets to swim in the farm pond.

 History of K-9 Service

Rudi and Officer Witt.Officer Witt and Rudi.

The Refuge System has eight K-9 teams across the country and has had a K-9 corps for more than 20 years. Like other law enforcement K-9s, Rudi is highly trained. Raised for this work from puppyhood, Rudi began 10 weeks of basic handler training before his second birthday. He continued to train with Witt throughout his career, including advanced, annual courses in obedience and control, tracking/ trailing and detection.

 Rudi on a boat

Federal wildlife canines assist Federal Wildlife Officers in conserving and protecting national wildlife refuges. They serve as patrol partners. They help locate people, evidence, contraband and wildlife. The K-9s are also used for officer public outreach and protection.

 Rudi with Witt  and 6 kids
Rudi with Officer Witt making new friends.

Rudi made friends everywhere he went,” says Witt.

The Service also uses Wildlife Detector Dogs to sniff out illegal wildlife products being shipped into or out of the country.

Into the Breech

Rudi has been an essential part of public safety. Some years ago, for example, a suspect in Iowa had run from a traffic stop into the river breaks. The runner had an outstanding arrest warrant. Rudi trailed him across a cornfield and found him hiding in a large root wad of a blown-down river maple tree. “The guy yelled, ‘Your dog found me. I give up’ and was apprehended without incident,” says Witt.

In daily circumstances, “Rudi was ‘roll on his back friendly’ everywhere we went,” Witt says.  “What is so amazing is that this same dog courageously put himself between me and a subject who was out of his mind with rage. In the blink of an eye, Rudi could pin down a subject and save me.”

 Rudi   dives into the water from boat

“Rudi was always calm, content and quiet, but when it came time to work, he was tenacious,” Witt summed up. “Without Rudi, I would never have gone to the places I went or met the many friends I have. Rudi has been a true ambassador for the Service.” 

Rudi; a legendary "paw-ficer"! Enjoy retirement. You earned it......
# Posted By J. Lucas | 8/3/17 7:45 PM

Congratulations on your retirement, K-9 Rudy. You've earned it! I recall the many times you'd helped protect the refuge for all. The one incident that stands out is catching the duck hunters who over-harvested their limit. I recall the picture in the paper of their boat that was brimming with illegally killed birds.
# Posted By | 8/4/17 6:53 AM

Here is a blog about the waterfowl hunters taking over-limits of ducks with the photo of Rudi in the boat.
# Posted By Matt, Fish and Wildlife Service | 8/4/17 8:46 AM

Outstanding story! Thanks for your service Rudi, and enjoy your retirement with your wonderful family!
# Posted By Joe Dapper | 8/4/17 2:11 PM

Wonderful article and photos. Happy trails to Rudi in the next chapter of his life, and thanks to this superb member of the "man's best friend" species, our amazing canines. Thanks to USFWS for ensuring Rudi enjoys a fitting, comfortable and enjoyable retirement after his 8 years of service for America. Also thanks for protecting our wildlife and natural environment that we cherish! Good boy, Rudi!
# Posted By Lori Sirianni | 8/4/17 6:58 PM

I was doing some research on Tulare County, California, Historical Archives Workbook from February 15, 2009 listing BLM GLO Historical Records and found this wonderful online article. Is there a list of Federal or State BLM and employees (including dogs) that is available? Thanks for you assistance.
# Posted By Kay Speaks, California | 8/10/17 4:49 PM

What do you think of this article?
# Posted By Barbi Dradi | 8/13/17 11:34 AM
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