Norcross Police Officer Craig Dallape first met Charlie in January of 2005. Charlie, who was born in Hungary, was trained by Master Police Dog Trainer Jan Scofield.
Together, Dallape spent a month with Charlie in Titusville, Fla., learning all the ins and outs of handling a dual-purpose canine.
They remained a dynamic duo until March of this year.
Last year, Charlie went to his annual check-up, where the vet determined he was in great shape. However, Dallape was advised that it would be wise to come up with a plan on how to retire him sometime in 2012.
“Being a dual purpose canine,” Dallape explained, “he does narcotics as well as apprehension. That puts a lot of strain on his hips and back.”
His large size – around 80 pounds – makes him more prone to injury, as well.
Dallape has been with the Norcross Police Department for eight years, seven of which he was with Charlie. Originally, Dallape was apprehensive at the thought of having a dog with him at all times. He was a little afraid it would be like bringing along a child.
Not even a month later, however, he felt as if he left his best friend at home if he ever went out without Charlie.
“Like I was missing something,” he added.
Charlie has had some great successes over the course of his career. A few months ago, officers responded to a call about a number of suspicious males entering a building around 2 a.m. Charlie and Dallape were the first on the scene.
“The suspects had forced entry into a garage door,” Dallape explained. “As I was protecting the back and another officer was at the front, one of the suspects ran past me.”
Dallape chased the suspect on foot and pushed a button to release Charlie from the vehicle.
“I just saw a brown blur run past me,” he recalled. “I didn't give any commands. He just went and apprehended the suspect.”
Another time, Charlie and Dallape received a call from Gwinnett Police to come over and check out some luggage for narcotics. Charlie had an “aggressive alert” as he ran over the luggage and uncovered $200,000 worth of narcotics.
“He's been a great partner,” Dallape said.
Charlie has and will continue to live with Officer Dallape and his family - even though he gets upset when Dallape has to leave for work without him. Although he is not a pet by any means, they consider him part of the family.