He may not be the biggest, the strongest or the most experienced police officer in the Naugatuck Police Department. But the last officer local drug dealers wanted to see over the past five years has been “Pete,” the police dog.
“Pete,” a 7-year-old Black Labrador Retriever, has been wreaking havoc on the local drug trade by finding narcotics hidden in cars and homes with his handler, Officer Kevin Zainc.
“He’s able to find drugs hiding in locations where we can’t find them,” Zainc said. “He’s been an invaluable resource to the police department.”
But now “Pete” is calling it quits. The dog has officially retired from the Naugatuck Police Department and will live out his remaining years with Zainc, who officially bought “Pete” from the borough for $1 this past week.
In 2007, “Pete” was donated to Naugatuck by the family of a late former police officer from Waterbury in honor of their loved one. The family wanted “Pete” to go to a department that didn’t have a police dog. At the time, Naugatuck did not. “Pete” was the first police dog in several years in Naugatuck and the first drug-sniffing dog in the department’s history. Zainc and "Pete" went through an intense training for several weeks before they officially started working the streets.
Since then, “Pete” has been joined by fellow police canine “Vane,” a German Shepherd who worked with Officer Ian Kosky. "Vane" is not a drug-sniffing dog.
The department still hasn’t decided whether it will get a new drug-sniffing dog in the near future.
Zainc said he will miss working with “Pete” as the duo regularly patrolled streets together.
“The other day I was getting ready for work and was about to leave when he came to the door like he was leaving, too,” Zainc said. “But I told him he had to stay home. It was kind of an awkward moment for both of us."
Zainc said the dog has been responsible for dozens of arrests and has found drugs that no human would have been able to locate, either on people or hidden inside cars or walls.
Lt. Bryan Cammarata, Naugatuck Police spokesman, said police will miss having “Pete” around.
“He’s served the department well,” Cammarata said. “Having a police dog is a wonderful asset for a department.”
On Tuesday, the Board of Mayor and Burgesses agreed to allow Zainc to purchase “Pete.” Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi wished him “many Kibbles and treats” in his future.
And Mayor Bob Mezzo said that while “Pete” won’t get the pension that most officers receive when they retire, their deal might be better.
“They get free room and board for life; that could be the sweetest deal out there,” he quipped.