Assaulted police dog retires
One of the country's top police dogs has been forced into early retirement after an 18-year-old Blenheim man strangled him and tried to cut his throat.
Saegar, an eight-year-old German shepherd, was assaulted by the man and a youth in Blenheim in September.
Police were called to a house after the offender began shooting a target on a corrugated iron fence with a firearm. When they arrived, the man grabbed Saegar around the neck, strangled and kicked him, then tried to cut his throat with a pruning saw.
The dog was eventually freed, but not before lasting damage had been done.
The decision to retire him was made this month after he failed a test to prove he was up to standard. He still had at least one more year before he was due for retirement.
In 2012, Saegar was the top police dog in the country after he and then-Nelson dog handler Constable Julian Lewis cleaned up at the National Police Dog Championships.
The pair won all but one of the trophies in the patrol dog section, and the overall Frank Riley Cup for national champion.
Lewis, who is now a sergeant in Kaikoura, was paired with 10-month-old Saegar in November 2006. He trained the young dog and took him into his home until he left Nelson for Kaikoura in 2012.
It was hard to make the decision to give up his role as a dog handler because Saegar had become part of his family, he said.
When he was at home, the dog was relaxed and good with his two children. But when he saw Lewis put on his uniform and vest, he was ready to work.
Saegar will still be used in the police dog breeding programme. He has already produced about 38 pups and another 32 have been bred from his progeny.
Saegar's success will live on through his offspring:
29 have graduated as operational police dogs in New Zealand.
4 have graduated as operational police dogs in South Australia.
7 have qualified as police dog breeding stock.
1 has graduated as an operational New Zealand Army tracking dog.
2 have graduated as RNZAF working dogs.
16 pups from his progeny are still on the Police Puppy Development Programme.
- The Marlborough Express