Orange County

Chapel Hill police say goodbye to four-pawed partner Stitch

Chapel Hill Police Officer David Funk and his K9 partner Stitch demonstrate some of the techniques they use to find illegal drugs and missing people at the fall Community Police Academy in Chapel Hill. Funk and Stitch worked together for four years before the Dutch Shepard died while off duty on Nov. 30, 2017.
Chapel Hill Police Officer David Funk and his K9 partner Stitch demonstrate some of the techniques they use to find illegal drugs and missing people at the fall Community Police Academy in Chapel Hill. Funk and Stitch worked together for four years before the Dutch Shepard died while off duty on Nov. 30, 2017. Contributed

The town lost a dedicated officer on Wednesday when police K-9 Stitch died while off duty.

Stitch, a Dutch Shepard, was 3 years old when she arrived from the Czech Republic in December 2013 for 14 weeks of basic patrol training with her handler, Officer David Funk. Stitch was certified with the International Police Working Dog Association in narcotics detection, tracking, evidence recovery and apprehension.

Stitch got her name when Funk noticed that the tip of her left ear was missing on the day he got her, according to the police department. She would spend her days off at Funk’s home, where retired K-9s M.J. and Mickey also live.

“She was a great asset to our department and community and will be greatly missed,” town officials said in a news release Thursday.

The Chapel Hill Police Department has employed 18 dogs and 12 handlers since starting its K-9 team in 1990. The team is certified by the U.S. Police Canine Association and the International Police Working Dog Association.

The town uses public donations to buy police dogs. The typical retirement age is between 6 and 10 years old.

The Hillsborough Police Department recently retired an 8-year-old police K-9 Viper. Viper, who joined the department in 2012, had developed an unidentified medical condition that made it hard for him to walk long distances.

The town has since received a donation of $11,000 from the Durham Kennel Club and its parent organization, the American Kennel Club, to help purchase another police dog.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

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