Pittsfield, MA – Pittsfield Police Department (PPD) K9 Niko died on Dec. 17 following an incurable spinal degeneration diagnosis.
The seven-year-old German Shepherd’s condition was diagnosed over the summer, but he still enjoyed working until his health deteriorated as winter set in, The Berkshire Eagle reported.
One day this past fall, K9 Niko helped save the life of an elderly woman with dementia after she fell off of a cliff on Dan Fox Drive.
“If he hadn’t located her, I don’t believe she would have survived,” K9 Niko’s human partner, PPD Sergeant James Parise, told The Berkshire Eagle.
K9 Niko began falling frequently as his legs progressively failed him, and was eventually unable to get in and out of the patrol car.
“His head was still in it – he just couldn’t do it physically,” Sgt. Parise told The Berkshire Eagle. “He worked right up until the end.”
On Dec. 17, Sgt. Parise “had to make the toughest decision any K9 handler can be forced to make,” the PPD said in a Facebook post.
The duo’s fellow officers escorted them to the Pittsfield Veterinary Hospital for K9 Niko’s final call, The Berkshire Eagle reported.
Officers stood at attention out in the snow and saluted Sgt. Parise as left the hospital without his longtime K9 partner.
K9 Niko joined the PPD in 2015, after another department planned to euthanize him due to his purported difficult temperament, The Berkshire Eagle reported.
"Being an experienced handler, I decided I would give him a shot," explained Sgt. Parise, who has been a K9 handler for 14 years. "And he was a great dog."
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Pittsfield Police Department and Sgt. Parise in the loss of K9 Niko.