‘Best Partner Ever’: Officer mourns loyal K-9’s passing

DOVER — He erupted into 75 pounds of snarling fury on command.

At home with five children, Britt was a lovable family pet who never caused problems.

The late German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois K-9 knew his place in life. On Monday, just a few months into a well deserved retirement, he died of old age.

“He never showed aggression towards anyone unless I told him to,” said handler Dover Police Cpl. Robert Barrett, who mourned his loyal partner’s passing.

For 11-plus years of duty — a four-legged crime fighter’s career typically spans five years — Britt proved invaluable assistance during hundreds of responses, including 18 apprehensions through biting.

Many misbehaving humans have painful memories, too. When they didn’t comply with surrender orders, the suddenly fierce canine K-9 bared his teeth as ordered to quickly de-escalate any situation.

“Most of the time they would give up before it came to that, which is what we want,” according to Cpl. Barrett.

Britt’s career highlight was detecting a then-record amount of heroin in June 2015. The historical feat came after a “cold traffic stop” that didn’t start as a drug investigation.

“Nobody is 100 percent perfect, but he was super reliable and trained to his fullest capability,” Cpl. Barrett said.

Now, Britt’s cremated remains reside under Cpl. Barrett’s deer stand in the woods following burial. The K-9 died just two months shy of his 14th birthday.

“We knew it was coming, it wasn’t caused by anything in particular,” he said. “It was very rough on Monday.”

‘Best partner ever’

At some point early on, Cpl. Barrett realized he’d found the ultimate work teammate. Former officer partners didn’t take it personally.

“There’s an inside story when I told my best friend and partner at a demonstration that Britt was the best partner I’d ever had,” he said.

“I was afraid that I might have hurt his feelings and my friend said ‘I understand.’”

Britt and Cpl. Barrett partnered up for 13 years, sniffing out drugs and controlling dangerous situations regularly arising during police work in Delaware’s capital city. He could locate six different types of narcotics, along with apprehending and tracking when called upon.

“I spent more time with him than my kids, my wife, everybody,” Cpl. Barrett said.

The K-9 was ready for every call.

“Britt loved coming to work and got excited each day to jump in the patrol car,” spokesman Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman said.

“As long as Britt was healthy and eager enough to do the job, he was going to be allowed to do it.”

Britt had a special effect on everyone good and bad and was unforgettable to say the least.

“It’s of course tough on me right now, but my wife is probably more upset than I am,” the officer said.

Protecting the community

Once at home and free from another day’s K-9 duty, Britt easily de-stressed.

“He was a goofy dog, he loved to play, everything was a game to him, nothing was serious,” Cpl. Barrett said. “He was a great family dog.”

Dover PD currently has four K-9 units, but Cpl. Barrett won’t join one of them.

An upcoming promotion to master corporal is likely, along with a supervisory role that comes with it.

There’s no under-playing the impact Britt made and the importance of canines now doing their duty to protect and serve the community.

“A police K-9 is just as valuable and respected as any other officer in our agency,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

“The K-9 is a great tool in apprehensions, tracking, and drug/explosives detection. Their sight, sound, and smell abilities far exceed that of a human being.”

Much of the police dogs time is spent on the streets of Dover.

“The majority of our K9’s are assigned to patrol shifts, so often times it is not just the handler that forms bonds with the K9 partners, but all of their working partners,” Cpl. Hoffman said.

“Just by working with the K-9s on shift, many officers learn the working techniques of each dog, their personality, and so on.

“Britt was a very social dog and enjoyed being around people, especially fellow officers.”

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