DADE CITY — K.T., a retired Pasco sheriff's police dog known for her keen drug-finding skills and widespread affection, passed away Thursday of what appeared to be old age. She was 14.
The Pasco Sheriff's Office bought the yellow Lab when she was 2 from a trainer in Tennessee. Her partner, Detective Scott Grant, remembers she slept in the same bed with him during her two-week training near Memphis. On the flight back to Tampa, he demanded she sit with him in the plane's cabin. "She's not going in the belly of the plane," he remembers telling a flight attendant. "She's a police officer."
Once with the agency, K.T. split her time between drug busts and keeping students' attention at drug-awareness presentations.
"She found an enormous amount of drugs" on duty, searching cars, airplanes and houses, Grant said. K.T. once recovered 85 pounds of marijuana in a car in Zephyrhills.
At school assemblies, 400 to 500 elementary students would line up to pet her. K.T. was recognized as "K-9 of the Year" in 2004 by the Florida Veterinary Medical Association.
Over time, Grant said, K.T. became a member of his family. He remembers bringing her home when they got off duty about 1 a.m. to see her slip into one of his three children's rooms, where she'd curl up in bed with them or on the bedroom floor.
K.T. retired from the force in 2009 and stayed home with Grant's family. This week, Grant said he let her outside while he was cleaning the pool behind the family's house in hilly Dade City. K.T. walked to the bottom of a hill in the yard like she did every day, but this time she couldn't get back up. Grant knew it was time.
On Thursday afternoon, Grant and his wife took K.T. to a veterinarian to have her put to sleep. Grant said K.T. will be cremated and her ashes placed in an urn.
He said he'll always remember "her demeanor. Nobody was afraid of her. She loved people."