Iowa City Police Dog Retiring With Partner

Iowa City K9 officer Naton poses next to marijuana he detected during a search in November 2006. Naton is retiring soon from the Iowa City Police Department. (Courtesy city of Iowa City.)

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By Katie Stinson

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Officer Naton is retiring from the Iowa City Police Department, but he’ll still be spending a lot of time with his partner.

That’s because Naton’s partner plans to buy him.

Naton is a K9 officer for the department, and he’s retiring in the coming weeks after eight years on the force. His handler, veteran officer Kevin Berg, is also retiring and wants to purchase Naton from the city.

“They’re both at the end of their career,” Police Chief Sam Hargadine said.

The City Council is to vote next week to approve the sale of Naton, who is city property, to Berg for $10.

The city paid $10,500 for Naton, which included his training, and the dog joined the department in 2005 at age 2. Selling him will save the city the cost of caring for him after his scheduled retirement.

It’s common in law enforcement for a handler to adopt a dog when it retires, Hargadine said. Also, Naton already lives at Berg’s home.

Naton, a Belgian Malinois, is considered an Iowa City police officer and even has a badge.

“In fact, his says ‘Naton,’ ” Hargadine said. “Mine doesn’t even say ‘Sam’ on it. He’s got a nicer badge than I do.”

Naton helps with drug identification, building searches and tracking people, Hargadine said. Naton won “Detector Dog Case of the Year” from the United States Police Canine Association in 2006 after sniffing out 48 pounds of marijuana in a suitcase on a Greyhound bus that had pulled into Iowa City.

He did his work despite the discovery halfway through his career that he is blind in one eye. There was some concern for Berg having a dog with poor vision, but Hargadine said it was never an issue and may have helped Naton’s sense of smell.

Berg did not immediately return messages seeking comment Thursday and Friday.

Iowa City has another K9 officer, Rakker, and soon will get one more, Hargadine said. Rakker helped locate two armed robbery suspects on Dec. 31, his first week on the job.

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