K-9 service member Runa has earned his retirement.
The Cherokee Nation Marshal Service is retiring its drug-sniffing dog Runa after five years of service, which led to detecting nearly 100 cases of illegal substances and running down suspects. The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council voted June 10 to retire Runa, whose health began to deteriorate this past December when he began having seizures and was diagnosed with epilepsy.
Runa, a 6 year old, 65 pound Dutch Shepherd, was chosen by Marshal Brian Catcher from a kennel in Indiana.
“We did training five days a week for four months after we went and picked him out. It was pretty intense,” Catcher said in a Nation press release. “We did narcotics work, bite work, live tracking and article search. He’s trained on heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine, and we just recently trained him on ecstasy.”
Runa has had several notable cases, including chasing a suspect which led to an arrest on the Illinois River, and another case which led to the confiscation of more than 20 pounds of marijuana from a residence in Wagoner County. When Runa was diagnosed with epilepsy, marshals acted quickly to retire him and live out his days with Catcher, who bonded with the canine.“As much as we like Runa as a K-9, I cannot field a dog out there that might be having a seizure the same time my officers need help,” Marshal Service Director Shannon Buhl said. “We talked to Brian, who said he would absolutely want Runa if he could have him and would take on responsibility of him, and once we determined that, I took the idea of his retirement to the administration and council, who whole-heartedly supported it.”
The Marshal Service has already obtained a new dog that will be paired up with Deputy Marshal Marshall Green. They will be undergoing training for the next few months before reporting for duty. Catcher didn’t want to take on a new dog while he still has Runa.
“To have the Cherokee Nation retire Runa with myself and my family means everything to us,” Catcher said. “He will get to live out the rest of his life with the family he was raised with. My wife and children love him every bit as much as I do, and he has become as much a part of our family as anyone could be.”