Prince William County police are mourning the death of K9 Officer Niko on Aug. 31.
Niko, an 8-year-old German shepherd, recently suffering from a debilitating spinal condition.
"He passed peacefully, with his partner, Sgt. Mike Szalach, and family by his side," the police department said in a Facebook post.
K9 Niko was born in Holland on June 18, 2011 and acquired by Prince William County Police Department from Shallow Creek Kennels on Aug. 21, 2012.
K9 Niko and Sgt. Szalach then earned team certifications in Police Patrol and EOD Detection. He won Top Dog Award during Basic K9 School, Novice 1st Place during USPCA Patrol Dog 1 Trials (2013), and the USPCA Triple Crown (2018) in Tracking, Patrol Dog 1 Trials, and Explosives Detection.
K9 Niko was responsible for a multitude of arrests, resulting from some lengthy K9 tracks. A few of his highlights include: tracking and apprehending two gunmen in the Coverstone area, after they shot a person multiple times and recovering both handguns in the process; he conducted multiple tracks that led to various groups of suspects hiding, leading to multiple arrests for robbery, stolen auto, etc.; he caught a serial burglar in Lakeridge, which cleared multiple cases, and the list seems never-ending.
“I think the best feature of Niko was his ability to be a police dog at work while being all business, but once we broke the threshold to our home, he was a beloved member of the family and loyal to the very end,” Szalach said.
Rest in peace K9 Niko.