Law enforcement officers from around Huntington County gathered Thursday afternoon to bid farewell to one of their own.
Zeek, a retired K-9 officer from the Huntington County Sheriff’s Department, was the guest of honor at the event, spending his final hours with the men and women he served with for just more than nine years.
Sadly, time, age and health issues caught up with Zeek, and he was put down a few hours after the celebration.
“He worked with a lot of people over his nine years, and there’s still a lot of those people here,” his handler, Deputy Dave McVoy said. “He always loved them; they always loved him. I figured he’d want to see the old boys one last time and they’d want to see him one last time.
“He’s been pretty well in hiding during retirement. He doesn’t get out a whole lot, other than around the house and yard. So we just kind of figured let people know; they could come and say ‘Hey.’
“Then it blew up and we had food coming. People coming from all over. It just kind of goes to show how much people thought of him.”
Zeek came to Indiana from Poland. He graduated from the Allen County Sheriff’s Department K9 Academy in February 2012 and joined the Huntington County Department shortly thereafter.
At the Academy, Zeek and McVoy spent 14 weeks of training in areas including narcotics detection, building searches, aggression control, handler protection, area searches, tracking and article searches. He was trained to detect marijuana, heroin, cocaine, crack, meth and ecstasy.
“It’s more getting the handler trained, and getting them to know what the handler wants them to do,” McVoy said. “(The training) is more for the handlers. We kept getting reminded of that every day.”
During his career, the 12-year-old, all-black German Shepherd was involved in more than 1,000 deployments and assisted in nearly 250 arrests.
Zeek was involved with several major drug finds, McVoy said.
“The (Huntington Police) detectives would get him involved,” he said. “He helped take several low- to mid-range dealers off the street.
“Not long after we got back from training he helped our detectives and the postal service with a controlled delivery. Somebody thought it was a good idea to mail drugs. He had a couple months of being on the road and he was already a media star.”
Zeke retired in March 2021 due to health issues inherent with his breed and work drive.
He didn’t retire willingly, and only did so when forced to do so by McVoy.
“It took him a while to get used to it,” McVoy said of Zeek. “I was still going to work, and he would be like, ‘Wait a minute. What about me?’
“My wife would tell me he would whine and go looking through the house for me. It took him about a good three weeks, probably, and then it was, ‘See you. Let me know when you come home.’”
Zeek was always excited about going to work, and overcoming that was a major part of his adjustment to retirement.
“Seeing me leave and he’s not, that’s what took him (time to get used to),” McVoy said. “Not so much doing things, the different activities he was trained in, but just going to work.”
He also admitted that it took him some time to get used to going on patrol without Zeek.
McVoy plans to have Zeek cremated, with some of his ashes to be spread at the Huntington County Sheriff’s Department, at a local kennel he would stay at when the family was away, and at the K9 academy at which he was trained.
Zeek enjoyed his career with the sheriff’s department, McVoy said. And while fighting crime was fun, he especially enjoyed getting to know his new community.
He spent countless hours visiting with different groups, clubs, schools, camps and even with the Sisters at Victory Noll.
“Community was important in bringing Zeek here,” McVoy said. “Something he never forgot.”
God speed, Zeek. And, thank you for your service.