Kent County shows off new K-9, honors fallen K-9 officer

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A new K-9 asset for the Kent County Sheriff's Department honors the legacy of a fallen K-9 officer.

Sabre is Kent County's newest crime fighter, working in narcotics detection in tracking and aggression. He’s a two-year-old German shepherd from the Netherlands who began crime fighting in July and already is having success.

It's a big job with big “paws” to fill. He's named after a fallen K-9 officer.

Sabre is the right-hand companion to Kent County Deputy Dan Alderink. “Really, you get a bond with these dogs. You know, they come home with them, they're a part of your family, you see them more than you see your own family,” Alderink said.

It’s a bond that retired Det. Matt Ramsey of the Lansing Police Department knows firsthand.

“They go to work with you, they live with you, they do everything with you,” Ramsey said. "Mine went on vacation with me, so the bond is inseparable. It’s closer than anything you can ever imagine."

That’s why Ramsey is brought to tears even now, 15 years later, at the memory of his K-9, Sabre, who was killed in the line of duty.

Having another K-9 named Sabre is an honor, Ramsey said. "The dog was a hero. Basically there’s two officers standing here today if it wasn’t for him."

The Kent County Sheriff`s Department made that honor official Wednesday with the introduction of its new dog named after Sabre.

“You can just see it in him. He has the same pizzazz that mine had,” Ramsey said.

Pizzazz is right. On Wednesday, Alderink showed off Sabre’s skills by finding marijuana in a filing cabinet. Sabre also is trained in article searches, building searches, criminal apprehension and handler protection.

“Sabre is in my opinion a very intimidating dog,” Alderink said. "He’s very fast for a large dog, he’s very strong, which is great."

Sabre has already been successful in tracking some thieves on just his third day on the job. He now takes over for retired K-9, Joe, who Alderink says is thoroughly enjoying retirement.

K-9 Sabre cost the department $12,000 and was purchased with drug forfeiture money from the vice team.

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