Last Robbinsville police dog, K9 Valko, retires

Photo by Joanne Degnan/The Robbinsville Sun Police Chief Marty Masseroni (left) presents retiring K9 Officer Valko with a 35-pound bag dog food during the police dog’s recent retirement ceremony. Shown with Valko are his handler, Sgt. Eric Bakay, and Bakay’s wife, Lisa, and son, Argento. Seated are Councilman David Boyne and Councilwoman Sheree McGowan.

Photo by Joanne Degnan/The Robbinsville Sun
Police Chief Marty Masseroni (left) presents retiring K9 Officer Valko with a 35-pound bag dog food during the police dog’s recent retirement ceremony. Shown with Valko are his handler, Sgt. Eric Bakay, and Bakay’s wife, Lisa, and son, Argento. Seated are Councilman David Boyne and Councilwoman Sheree McGowan.

With eight years of dedicated police work under his collar and 285 police investigations to his credit, retiring K9 Valko was the undisputed top dog at the Police Department’s recognition ceremonies last week.

The 9-year-old German shepherd was given a royal sendoff at the June 27 Township Council meeting, highlighted by the official K9 retirement ceremony attended by 14 police officers and their families. Parting gifts for Valko included a plaque, a monogrammed navy fleece blanket, a chew toy and a 35-pound bag of dog food.

Valko’s retirement marks not only the end of his career, but also the end of the line for the Police Department’s K9 unit.  Robbinsville’s other police dog, Zilke, whose handler was Patrolman Shawn Emmons, had her official retirement ceremony in 2011 and died three months ago. There are currently no plans to acquire a new police dog, according to Robbinsville Police Lt. Michael Polaski.

Valko is now living out his golden years with his longtime partner and handler Sgt. Eric Bakay, who says Valko’s transition from crime-fighting police dog to laid-back family pet is turning out to be easier said than done.

“He still tries to scoot out the door and follow me when I leave for work,” Bakay said July 2, one week into Valko’s retirement. “It’s a big adjustment for me as well as he was very loyal partner and always by my side.”

Valko, who had to retire because of age and health issues, had an impressive career and diverse skill set that included sniffing out drugs, tracking criminals, backing up officers executing search and arrest warrants when officers were greatly outnumbered, and tracking missing children, as well as elderly adults suffering from dementia, that were reported missing in Robbinsville and other nearby towns.

Photo by Joanne Degnan/The Robbinsville Sun Sgt. Eric Bakay and K9 Officer Valko, who is now retired from police work and living with Bakay's family.

Photo by Joanne Degnan/The Robbinsville Sun
Sgt. Eric Bakay and K9 Officer Valko, who is now retired from police work and living with Bakay’s family.

Born in Tarnok, Hungary, Valko began his training with Bakay in January 2005 at the Atlantic County Police Training Center’s K-9 police academy in Corbin City where he quickly established himself as head and shoulders above the rest. He so excelled during the 16-week training course covering obedience, apprehension, handler protection, tracking, searches, large crowds, gunfire and explosions, that Bakay and Valko were awarded the prestigious John “Sonny” Burke Award given to the top recruit and handler in every graduating class.

Valko later completed an 11-week scent training class with the State Police that taught him how to sniff out a multitude of drugs including marijuana, hashish, cocaine, crack, Ecstasy, and methamphetamine. Valko was trained to board and search planes, helicopters, boats, trains, trucks, and various motor vehicles in all types of weather conditions.

The police dog’s in-service training continued with various agencies afterward including the Wall Township police, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, New Jersey State Police, Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and the Philadelphia Police Department.

“He served the Robbinsville Township Police Department for eight and a half years and his presence patrolling the streets will be greatly missed,” Bakay said. Now, Valko is “being spoiled by my wife and son while I am at work – something he truly deserves.”

 

 

 

 


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