|Established in 1969, the Kingsport Police Department K-9 Unit is the second oldest Police K-9 Unit in the State of Tennessee. Chief of Police David Quillin, a former K-9 handler himself, is often heard reminiscing about his days serving in the K-9 Unit in the late 1980s to early 1990s with his partner Wolf, calling them one of the highlights of his law enforcement career. During his time at K.P.D. prior to being elected as Sullivan County Sheriff, Wayne Anderson also served extensively in the K.P.D. K-9 Unit alongside partners Whitey, Major, Betsy, and Ike.
All of K.P.D.’s current K-9s are considered dual-purpose dogs, meaning that they are cross-trained in both Patrol (apprehension, tracking, article and building search, personal protection, agility, etc.) and Detection (of either narcotics or explosives). Dual-purpose dogs require extensive initial and ongoing training in order to keep their abilities sharp and maintain required certifications. All K.P.D. K-9s and their handlers maintain annual certification through either the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) or the North American Police Working Dog Association (NAPWDA).
Dogs in general are wonderfully loyal creatures, but police dogs in particular are spectacular examples of the species. Everyone (except perhaps the bad guys) loves the police dogs. Children want to pet them, while adults watch in awe as they demonstrate their athletic prowess. And while much is often said regarding their training, abilities, lineage, accomplishments, and even their handlers, the essential and sometimes critical behind the scenes veterinary care that they receive is all too often overlooked.
The Kingsport Police Department recently took steps to correct this oversight. On January 17, 2017 at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Dr. Michael A. “Andy” Cherry and Cherry Point Animal Hospital were officially given the credit and recognition they have so diligently earned and so rightfully deserve.
Alderman Tom Parham presented Dr. Cherry with a Proclamation and Chief David Quillin presented him with a plaque in honor of the outstanding veterinary care, attention, and support provided to the dogs currently serving actively with the Kingsport Police Department K-9 Unit, as well as several retired dogs, still residing with their former handlers.
For approximately the past five years, Dr. Cherry has truly gone above and beyond, making himself available outside of regular business hours on several occasions. His dedication to the K.P.D. K-9 Unit and the superior level of care provided by Cherry Point Animal Hospital have been nothing short of phenomenal and are greatly appreciated.
Officer David Johnson (former handler of Sinko and current handler of Nim), Officer Ken Jackson (current handler of Roi), Officer Billy Boyd (former handler of Macho and current handler of Reko), Officer Brian Taylor (former handler of both Zak and Axyl), and Sergeant Kevin Hite (former handler of Odus and current K-9 Unit Supervisor and Trainer) were among those also present for Dr. Cherry’s recognition.
Upon the recent retirement of K-9 Axyl, the Kingsport Police Department is currently in the process of selecting and acquiring his replacement. After partnering with two consecutive dogs, Axyl’s former handler, Officer Brian Taylor, has returned to regular duties in the K.P.D. Patrol Division, while Officer Caleb Clawson has been selected to handle the next dog to soon join the ranks of the K.P.D. K-9 Unit.
And finally, a tidbit of K.P.D. historical trivia in honor of the City of Kingsport’s centennial year: The first two dogs to serve in the Kingsport Police Department K-9 Unit in 1969 had rather tough and menacing sounding names…Apache and Satan…and were handled by former Officers Elmer Reed and Glen Shumate respectively.