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Westport Honors Retired Police Dog

WESTPORT, Conn. – Westport police dog Lola may not have been given a gold watch — or dog biscuit — upon her official retirement last month. But during a ceremony Wednesday, she was honored by Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff for her 10 years with the department.

“Lola, I have a commendation for you. I know it’s not of great interest,” Joseloff joked as he presented the commendation to Lola and her handler, Officer Marc Heinmiller.

Lola, a 12-year-old all-black German shepherd, has more than 1,000 arrests to her credit. When she joined the department in 2002, she was handled by then-officer Fotios Koskinas, who’s now the deputy chief. Heinmiller took over as her handler in 2007 after Koskinas was promoted to another position.

“For the last 10 years now, she has done tremendous work for the police department,” Police Chief Dale Call said during the ceremony. “But every dog has its day and then has to venture off into sitting around the house and being a pet again.

During the ceremony, an energetic Lola eagerly played with a chew toy. “Clearly, retirement doesn’t suit her well,” Call laughed.

Throughout her career, Lola assisted in numerous drug seizures, criminal apprehensions, and the finding of the lost or missing. She was also the star of numerous public demonstrations in which she showed groups of Westport fifth-graders her obedience training and how she searched for drugs.

With Lola’s retirement, Heinmiller steps down as one of the department’s K-9 handlers. He will continue as a patrol officer. “I’m going to miss it,” Heimiller said as he thanked his colleagues and K-9 Unit supporters.

Call, who worked as one of the department’s bloodhound handlers and a K-9 Unit supervisor, told Heimiller that within a year, he’ll want to go back to his old job.

“I think the coolest thing one can do as a police officer is to be a dog handler. I honestly can’t think of a better thing to do,” said Call.

Now that she’s retired, Lola will live with Heinmiller and his family.

The department is in the process of selecting a new dog to join the K-9 Unit, which also consists of Ellie, a bloodhound, and her handler, Officer Ryan Paulsson .

For the first time ever, the department is inviting children in town to help name the new dog. Name suggestion boxes are at Earth Animal, 606 Post Road E., and in the Westport Police Department lobby. Children should submit one male name and one female name. The child whose name is chosen will have his or her picture taken with the new police dog and will also receive a certificate from Police Chief Dale Call.

Because the K-9 Unit is entirely funded by donations, the department is seeking contributions to help purchase a new dog. Donations can be sent to: The Westport Police K-9 Unit, 50 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880.

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