Roswell, GA - He was the Fulton County sheriff's first bomb-sniffing K-9 officer. This morning at 11:00 in Roswell, after a yearlong battle with severe arthritis, a retired black Lab gets a final law enforcement farewell.
K-9 Officer Mokey, a 12.5-year-old black Labrador Retriever, will be euthanized after a yearlong battle with arthritis and other ailments has left him even unable to stand on his own.
Ret. Fulton County Sheriff's Sgt. Kirk Markham, Mokey's partner for seven years, says Mokey had a distinguished law enforcement career. Mokey responded to bomb threats, did security sweeps at major events including four Super Bowls, assisted the U. S. Marshals during fugitive sweeps, and even helped change the way police detectives in Atlanta conducted homicide investigations and processed crime scenes for ballistics evidence.
"Mokey rewrote the script on his own without even typing or knowing how to spell with his paws," says Markham. "It's just the way that he worked, and so many shell casings and other things that were related to homicides that he found that just blew the homicide commanders and the deputy chiefs and even the chiefs away."
Markham says he didn't believe it himself when K-9 school instructors told him that his bomb-sniffing Lab would also be able to sniff out ballistics. Then, he saw it for himself. When he told an Atlanta homicide detective and friend about Mokey's talents during a casual conversation, the detective said he would call them out to his next shooting scene to see what the young dog could do. When an Atlanta Red Dog officer, Mark Cross, was shot to death, that was the call. Mokey went over the crime scene and confirmed to detectives that they had processed all the physical evidence there, spurring confidence in his ballistics-locating ability.
Mokey was later called out to investigate other similar crime scenes. Markham recalls that after the 2010 killings of State Trooper Cpl. Chadwick LeCroy and Chattahoochee Hills Police Lt. Michael Vogt, K-9 Officer Mokey sprung into action.
"Mokey found evidence on both of those scenes in a matter of seconds," says Markham. "This gave the D. A.'s office a chance to have all the evidence, and both of the suspects that shot the two law enforcement officers pled guilty. This kept the families from going through a long, drawn-out, emotional trial."
Ultimately, says Markham, Atlanta Police got K-9 officers of their own after seeing the expertise Mokey provided.
Mokey's loving temperament made him a popular creature inside the Fulton County courthouse, on the street, and in schools and libraries where children got to pet him. He rode in an SUV which had his name emblazoned on the side. Judges even told Markham that when the two of them were in the building, they expected to see K-9 Mokey drop into their chambers for a quick visit.
Originally raised to be a seeing-eye dog, Mokey proved too rambunctious for that job, so a career change was in order.
"I think he just said, 'This is no fun. I'm a guy of action. I need to get into law enforcement work,' and it suited him," says Markham. "Bomb-detection work was the job for Mokey."
The two retired from the Fulton County Sheriff's Office in 2011.
"They teach you in K-9 school to always trust your dog, and I did," says Markham. "Mokey is the superstar. I feel that I was just his assistant, I was his chauffeur, I was the dummy with the leash. Because he did all the work."
Since making the decision on Monday to euthanize Mokey, Markham has been receiving condolences from as far away as the United Kingdom. He says several K-9s and their handlers will be on hand Thursday morning to salute Mokey and his many years of service, lining the way for his final trip into the veterinarian's clinic. He anticipates "a lot of wet eyes" Thursday morning.
His voice becomes thick with tears when thinking of losing Mokey, who has been with him since he was just a year old.
"He was more than my partner," says Sgt. Markham. "He was my best friend."