After years of faithful service, Lower Saucon Township Police Department's K-9 dog, Brutus, will retire.
Police Chief Guy Lesser told township council Wednesday that Brutus recently recovered from a hind leg injury only to be diagnosed with a tumor on one of his front legs.
Lesser said a canine oncologist has advised him that the tumor is "with near certainty" cancerous.
As a result, Brutus "will cease to be active as a K-9," he added.
Brutus' former handler may care for him during his final months, although Lesser said the exact details of his care have yet to be worked out.
The chief said that although Brutus' illness was completely unforeseen, the timing for purchasing a replacement for him is relatively "opportune," since a new K-9 officer recently began working with him.
That officer, Stephen Kunigas, was in attendance at the council meeting and endorsed Lesser's recommendation to purchase another dog from Progressive K-9 at a cost of $6,500.
That price is "more than competitive," Lesser told council, adding that K-9 dogs can cost as much as $11,000.
He urged council to support the K-9 program, which he said has been of significant value to both the township and the entire Saucon Valley community.
Lesser noted that Brutus and the department's previous dog, Caezar, have often assisted Hellertown Police as well as other local police departments.
"Our K-9’s been used for area searches, building searches, and for tracking," he said.
The dogs have also been used to conduct locker searches and demonstrations at Saucon Valley High School.
Councilwoman Priscilla deLeon endorsed Lesser's recommendation to move forward with the purchase of another dog immediately.
"Unfortunately, because of what’s out there, we need a dog," she said.
Council President Glenn Kern, however, said he wanted an opportunity to study numbers and statistics related to the K-9 program before making a decision.
For example, Kern said he wanted to know what the program's annual costs are and which specific incidents the dogs have helped with.
In addition to specific incidents, "the preventive value (of the program) has been very significant," Lesser asserted.
Following a motion by deLeon, council voted 3-2 to fund the purchase of a new K-9 dog at a cost of up to $6,500, and to pay for Brutus' care in his retirement.
Kern and council Vice President Tom Maxfield voted against the motion, although Kern noted that he may have supported the decision in two weeks, following an opportunity to review specifics.
Lesser said the Lower Saucon Township Police Department K-9 program has been in existence since mid-2000.
According to the police department's Programs page on the township website, Brutus joined the department in January 2008, replacing Caezar, who has since passed away.