K9 Tillman retires from ASU PD after two years of service

ASU PD held a retirement ceremony on Tuesday in honor of his service

K9 Tillman, a valued member of the ASU Police Department is retiring due to dysplasia in his elbow. 

Tillman, a German shepherd, is almost 4-years-old and has worked with ASU PD since 2016. 

Brenda Carrasco, a spokesperson for ASU PD, said that Tillman contributed a lot to the department, because he was the first dual-purpose dog, meaning that he served both as a protection and detection dog. Among his duties, Tillman was trained on patrol and on explosive detection.

“He was extremely valuable to us and he still is, so at this point because it was a premature retirement, we’re obviously all very upset about it," she said. "But his health is first, so right now we’re kind of just focusing on his recovery." 

Tillman was one of two protection-detection dogs at ASU PD, so the department will now have one dog, Zeke, helping out at events. The department hopes to get another protection detection dog within the next year, she said.

ASU PD also has a dog named Dutch who works at the department to provide emotional support for victims of traumatic crimes. 

"We are grateful for Tillman’s service to the University and wish him the best in his retirement." Jerry Gonzalez, a University spokesperson, said in a statement via email. "He will be missed.”

A retirement ceremony was held on Tuesday, where Tillman was honored for his service.

Officer Colton Adams, who was Tillman’s handler while the dog was still working, said that he will miss working with Tillman on the job. 

"I’m really used to having him with me all the time," Adams said. "I think personality wise, he’s just a really mellow dog, he gets along with everybody. I haven’t met a single person that he hasn’t liked, another dog he hasn’t liked."

Adams also said that one of the most memorable experiences he had with Tillman was going through training and growing together. 

“The one thing I will always remember that I would take away is going through all of our training together," he said. "He was brand new, he had no training. I was brand new, I had no training.” 

Adams said that the dysplasia that Tillman has involves the degeneration of the bones, joints and cartilage. If the condition was prolonged, he said, it would go from being uncomfortable for Tillman to painful. 

To help ease his pain, Tillman had surgery for his dysplasia on Dec. 28, 2018, but the condition will never fully go away. 

Adams also said that medication can help to make Tillman more comfortable.

“For a retired dog he’ll be okay, if he was to continue working, there’s a really high likelihood that those bone chips would come back,” he said.  

Adams looks forward to Tillman adjusting to his place as a retired, at-home dog. 

Carrasco said that Tillman's job was very fast-paced and difficult, and the department is glad that he can now relax in the comfort of his home.

“He’s still kind of going through the transition of, I’ll get ready for work and I’ll leave but I’m not taking him with me, but he’s following me to the door because he’s used to going with me," he said. "So that’s been pretty hard probably on both of us.”

Adams said he hopes Tillman can find his peace at home with his family and enjoy his retired life.

Reach the reporter at bstoshne@asu.edu and follow @itsbrennaaaa on Twitter. 

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