Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Shavonne Potts
Salisbury Post
One of the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office beloved deputies retired earlier this month after nearly 80 years on the force.
This retiree will enjoy his time chasing squirrels and playing with the house cat.
Vito, a black-and-chocolate Rottweiler who is one of three K-9s in the department, officially retired May 1.
He’s been by handler Lt. Neal Goodman’s side for 11 years; that’s about 84 years if he were a man. Vito will be 13 years old in August.
“He’s lost some of his agility and is a little hard of hearing,” Goodman said.
Although Vito may not be as lithe as he once was, that didn’t stop him from sweeping through the halls of the Sheriff’s Office and in and out of chairs in a conference room.
“He’s been a good partner. He’s got some big paw prints to fill,” Goodman said.
He said Vito won’t quickly be replaced.
“I don’t want to push the old man and make him feel like he’s being replaced,” Goodman said.
Goodman got Vito at seven months old and Vito became certified seven months later.
He’s certified by the North American Police Work Dog Association in obedience, article search, area search and aggression control. He’s also certified as a narcotics detector, patrol and tracking. In Vito’s career, he’s accomplished 75 narcotic searches, 50 school searches, found three lost children, performed 98 public demonstrations, just to name a few.
“He’s been a good ambassador for the sheriff’s office and the Rottweiler breed,” he said.
He’s recovered drugs and money รณ specifically nearly 84 pounds of marijuana, about 68 grams of crack and powder cocaine, 46 grams of heroin or opium and $19,000. Also a handgun, a ballistic vest and several grams of hashish.
The most memorable of those captures for Goodman were the suspects Vito found hiding in a tree and the lost children who were found.
Vito will still train as he always has, but not as intensively. He was the Sheriff’s Office first courthouse security dog.
Vito was not without parting gifts. Many in the administrative staff gave him toys and tennis balls, which he promptly chewed to bits.
Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253 or