Retired New Milford police K-9 Kira dies from surgery complications

Photo of Kendra Baker

NEW MILFORD — The recent retirement of police K-9 Kira was unexpectedly cut short after the 10-year-old Czech Republic-born German Shepherd died of complications following tumor removal surgery, police announced Monday morning.

The New Milford Police Department said Kira — who entered retirement three months ago following 10 years of service — passed away peacefully with her handler, Sgt. Micheal Lafond, by her side.

“Kira was more than a police dog. She was a member of our family,” Lafond said. “Kira had an amazing demeanor. Kira was able to be a loving pup with my wife and three kids, but also had the ability to turn it on when it was time for work.”

While he’s saddened by the loss of his companion, Lafond said he’s “more than thankful for the fun times” they shared.

“She was a loyal friend that I will miss every day,” he said.

Kira started working alongside Lafond after she graduated 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.

Lafond described working alongside Kira as an amazing experience and said she “could not have asked for a better partner.”

“I was very fortunate to be paired with her — she did the hard work as I held the leash,” he said.

Kira — whose few months of retirement were spent with the Lafond family — was recently honored at town hall with a mayoral proclamation highlighting her decade-long career with the New Milford Police Department.

During her time on the force, 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.

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

That same year, Kira 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 the K-9 managed to “physically apprehend the male suspect,” who was later convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

In 2018, Kira and Lafond responded to Danbury to help find a missing suicidal male. After more than an hour of tracking and wading through water 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.”

Not only did Kira “put her life on the line in several dangerous situations,” said Chief Spencer Cerruto, but she was “an amazing and loyal partner.”

“Our hearts are broken over the loss of K-9 Kira. We were shocked that she fell ill and was not able to enjoy her retirement,” Cerruto said Tuesday.

“She was much more than just a dog,” he said. “She was a friend and an important part of our New Milford Police Department family.”

Cerruto said a memorial plaque will be placed at New Milford police headquarters in honor and memory of K-9 Kira’s service to the community.