Boris, the Virginia Tech Police Department’s apprehension and narcotics detection K-9, is retiring for health reasons after more than five years protecting the university community.

The 9 ½ year-old German shepherd joined the police department in September 2008 after undergoing extensive training. Boris assisted narcotic investigations and could detect marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. In addition, he could track people and search for them in the woods or in buildings.

“Boris was an important member of our department, the university, and the region. He kept Virginia Tech safe and was an excellent community resource,” said Kevin Foust, interim police chief. “Boris was really a bridge between the police department and the students. They loved seeing him around campus.”

Boris was partnered with Officer Jaret Reece beginning in October 2009. The two were often seen around campus on patrol or doing special demonstrations for university groups. Also, the two provided assistance to neighboring communities in the New River Valley. He was used for school narcotic searches, and he tracked and helped apprehend suspects.

“Once, we were helping Montgomery County track a suspect at night in the woods. We came upon some heavy undergrowth and Boris stopped. I thought it was because he needed to find an easier path or had lost the scent. I tried to find a place where the undergrowth wasn’t as heavy, but Boris kept coming back to the same spot. Finally, another officer spotted the suspect hiding in that undergrowth. Boris knew what he was doing. I just needed to listen,” said Reece.

Boris had to be certified annually as both a patrol K-9 and as a narcotics detection K-9 so regular training was important. Boris and Reece trained twice per month with other K-9 units in the region. Also, during downtime while on patrol, Reece would run Boris through a series of drills.

Even though he will be retired, Boris' image will still be seen on campus. Boris was the model for the Virginia Police Canine Memorial, which stands outside the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. The memorial honors police dogs that have been killed in the line of duty in Virginia.

A slower life awaits Boris in retirement. He will be adopted into the Reece family, which includes three other dogs.

“He’s always been a part of our family, now it will become official,” said Reece, whose father was also a police K-9 handler.

The police department says they have plans to bring a new dog on board later this year. 

Those wishing to support the medical needs of working dogs like Boris can donate to the Caring for Canine Heroes program. The program is run by the Center for Animal Human Relationships, which is part of the veterinary college, and provides medical services to more than 200 public safety service canines in the New River Valley.

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