October 28, 2004 at 2000




Details:  The Lodi Police Department sadly announces the loss of Lodi Police K-9 “Ringo,” who died because of cancer on October 27, 2004.  He was 3 ½ years old.


Ringo had been a member of the department’s K-9 team since April of 2003, and was handled by Officer Steve Nelson.  He was a Dutch Shepard, bred specifically for police work and imported from Holland.  The two trained together intensively for about six months before Ringo was ready for street duty.  He then served as a patrol K-9, riding with Officer Nelson in a black and white car, and doing suspect searches and apprehensions on a regular basis.   The two worked street patrol together for over a year.


Ringo amassed an impressive number of awards and arrests in his short career.  He had received trophies in three of the four police canine competitions that he had been entered in, a rare accomplishment for a rookie dog.  In addition, he was one of two SWAT certified dogs for the Lodi Police Department.  Ringo had been under treatment for what was believed to be a minor infection.  He was diagnosed with cancer on Tuesday and was taken to UC Davis.  On Wednesday, it became clear that his condition was hopeless and extremely painful, and he was put to sleep with Officer Nelson at his side. 


It was later determined that the cancer had spread to Ringo’s bladder and other organs.  In an amazing tribute to his spirit, however, he had given no indication that anything was seriously wrong until the very end.  In fact, he had scored sixth out of 30 dogs in the “protection phase” at the Sacramento Police K-9 Competition, only a week ago.   The protection phase is the most grueling event in these competitions, involving real-life scenarios, and is the “bread-and-butter” of police canine work.  According to Sgt. Chris Jacobson, LPD K-9 supervisor, Ringo performed beautifully in spite of what must have been his advanced state of illness.


Sgt. Jacobson, said that Officer Nelson was devastated by the loss.  Police canines spend 10 hours a night working with their handlers, besides training long and hard to become an effective team, and a close relationship develops.  To have worked so hard with Ringo and to have seen his rapid development into a first rate working dog only adds to the disappointment. 


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There is also a financial side to this tragedy.  Police dogs are purchased through a combination of city budget monies and donations.  Ringo cost $4,500 to purchase, not to mention the staff hours spent in training him, and his unexpected death comes at a time when the city budget is shrinking.   The norm is for Lodi Police canines to retire after 4 or 5 years of service, and then live out their lives with their former handlers and families.  Ringo is the first Lodi canine to have not made it to retirement, and LPD will be seeking a way to replace him in the near future.  For the moment however, we mourn the loss of this faithful servant.



 Contact:  Lt. William Barry at 209-329-2966 or wbarry@pd.lodi.gov