K9s Cerik and Mato retired from the City of Lenoir Police Department Tuesday night, Nov. 12, 2019. City Council thanked the animals and handlers for their service. The dogs will spend their retirement living with their handlers and families.
Police Chief Brent Phelps said Cerik and Mato have been valuable members of the department and will be missed.
"I’m proud of the work these two handlers have put in with these two K9s," Chief Phelps said. "and I’m proud of all our handlers for the work in running our K9 program for the department and City of Lenoir."
K9 Cerik was born in January 2011 in the Czech Republic. He started his career with the Lenoir Police Department in October 2011. Cerik is the youngest dog to certify with the agency at only 11 months old. During his career, Cerik had a total of three handlers. Sgt. Nathaneal Blache has been Cerik's handler since March 2016.
K9 Mato was born in the Czech Republic in December 2011. He came to serve with the department in December 2012. Corporal Justin Reid has been Mato's only handler.
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Cerik worked more than 1,000 events during his career and Mato worked more than 700. Those events include training, narcotics searches, building searches, article searches, tracks, and demonstrations.
Sgt. Blache said his most memorable event with Cerik was assisting the Sheriffs Office with a narcotics search. Cerik located more than three pounds of methamphetamine with a street value of over $217,000 during that search.
Cerik will retire at home with Sgt. Blache and his wife, 16-month-old son, and small house dog.
Cpl. Reid said Mato’s biggest drug find was 10.2 pounds of marijuana with a street value of $36,556. Narcotics officers asked Mato to check some packages at UPS. After sniffing several packages, Mato indicated on a package containing the marijuana. The marijuana was vacuum sealed and wrapped in plastic with dryer sheets.
Cpl. Reid said Mato’s most memorable track involved a jump and run on Dry Ponds Road. The Sheriff's Office asked for help after two suspects fled on foot from a vehicle on a traffic stop. The suspects fled into the woods.
"Mato tracked one suspect, and he was located when he fell out of tree where we was tracking," Cpl. Reid wrote. "We then tracked the other suspect after the first was apprehended, and he was located in the middle of a briar patch by Mato."
Mato will retire to live with Cpl. Reid and his family.
Phelps said the department will bring on two new K9s in the next few months. The new dogs will be assigned to new handlers.
From left: Councilmembers Jonathan Beal, Ike Perkins, and Crissy Thomas; Cpl. Justin Reid; Councilmembers Ralph Prestwood and David Stevens; K9 Mato, Mayor Joe Gibbons, Police Chief Brent Phelps; Councilmembers Ben Willis and Todd Perdue; K9 Cerik; and Sgt. Nathaneal Blache.