'I could not have asked for a better partner': New Milford police say good-bye to retiring K-9

Photo of Kendra Baker

NEW MILFORD — After a decade of service, K-9 Kira said good-bye to the police department and hello to retirement on Saturday.

The Czech Republic-born German Shepherd worked alongside K-9 Sgt. Michael LaFond after graduating from Patrol and Narcotics School in 2011. Together they attended a 10-week police work dog school and Kira became a certified dual-purpose patrol and narcotics police canine.

“Serving with Kira has been an amazing experience and I could not have asked for a better partner,” LaFond said. “I was very fortunate to be paired with her — she did the hard work as I held the leash.”

During her 10-year career with the New Milford Police Department, Kira predominantly worked a swing shift spanning both the evening and midnight patrols and amassed a record of successful tracks, drug finds and felony apprehensions.

She worked through the height of the opioid epidemic and made “sniffing out for heroin a top priority,” according to the police department.

During a 2017 traffic stop on Route 67, Kira located a large amount of heroin, which resulted in four separate felony arrests.

That same year, she responded to a home invasion in progress, where officers found a knife-wielding intruder engaged in a physical fight with the homeowner at the scene. Police said Kira “put her life on the line” during the incident and managed to “physically apprehend the male suspect,” who was later convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Five years before that, Kira served on a U.S. Presidential Security detail, assisting the Secret Service during President Barack Obama’s arrival to Newtown following the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

New Milford police said the K-9 also brought “phenomenal tracking abilities” to the force.

In 2018, Kira and LaFond responded to a mutual aid call in Danbury for a missing suicidal male. After tracking for more than an hour and wading through a small river in sub-freezing temperatures, they located the man, who showed signs of a drug overdose.

LaFond quickly administered Narcan and the man was transported to the hospital and survived. Police said that without Kira’s tracking ability, “the result may have been a tragic one.”

Kira got to know the people of New Milford by performing in countless demonstrations, including ones at summer camps, Harrybrooke Park and annual events like the Dog Days of Summer.

“Kira has been a friend and a partner to all of us,” said Chief Spencer Cerruto. “Kira has put her life on the line in several dangerous situations and for this we are truly grateful.”

Cerruto praised Kira and LaFond for their “exceptional service” over the years and said Kira “will be missed.”

Kira’s retirement doesn’t mean parting ways with her long-time handler. According to the New Milford Police Department, she will spend her years in retirement with the LaFond family.