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Vito, Rowan County Sheriff's Office K-9 officer, dies at 14

By Shavonne Potts
Salisbury Post
It was nearly a year ago that Rowan County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Neal Goodman said goodbye to his partner of 11 years. Vito, a black-and-chocolate Rottweiler, was retiring.
Earlier this week, Goodman said farewell to Vito for the final time. The nearly 14-year-old dog died Sunday at Goodman’s home.
Vito retired May 2007 after serving about 84 years, if he were a man.
“It was hard to retire him, but even harder to see his decline in health,” Goodman said.
Vito wasn’t as spry as he once was. He was also losing his hearing.
“He had a stroke since then and had complications from that. His 11 years as a deputy K-9 took its toll on him,” Goodman said.
Vito was also having digestive problems and couldn’t take in nourishment.
Goodman said although Vito was unsteady on his feet and his sense of balance had declined, he enjoyed playing until the night of his death.
Goodman said he noticed on Saturday that Vito lost his desire to play, which wasn’t in his nature.
Goodman got Vito at seven months old and Vito became certified seven months later.
He was certified by the North American Police Work Dog Association in obedience, article search, area search and aggression control. Vito was also certified as a narcotics detector, patrol and tracking.
Throughout his 11-year career, Vito accomplished much, including the successful location of three lost children, performed 98 public demonstrations and 75 narcotic searches.
“I think he did his part. He earned his keep. He did a good service to the citizens of Rowan County,” Goodman said.
The deputy is now training with a new canine partner. He was hoping to get a descendant of Vito, but was unable. This time he’s getting a female.
“I think she’s going to be a good dog,” he said.
Goodman still has Vito’s working badge, which usually hung loosely around the dog’s neck.
Vito was buried in the family’s backyard with his favorite pet toy.
“He’s always going to be with me in memory. I’ll never forget him,” Goodman said.
Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253 or spotts@salisburypost.com.

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