STRONGSVILLE – The Strongsville Police Department recently lost a valued member of the force.

K-9 Achill was euthanized Jan. 22, 2016, the same day it was discovered the German shepherd had advanced cancer.

Officer Shamus Kelley and Achill were partners for almost 10 years. Achill was born Nov. 14, 2004 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The Strongsville Police Department selected Achill to become one of its police dogs in March 2006.

“He was part of the police family. There’s such an attachment with those animals that you forget they’re a fellow officer,” Strongsville Police Chief Jim Kobak said. “The work life of those K9s is right around 10 years.”

The SPD has two other K-9s, Tesco and Chase. Plans are for the department to get a dog to replace Achill.

Being a K-9 officer was a pleasure, said Kelley, who is transitioning into the department’s D.A.R.E. program.

“The community loved the dog and crooks feared Achill, which, of course, deterred crime,” Kelley said.

Ironically, Achill was not very aggressive. What set him apart was that part of the anatomy below the eyes and above the mouth.

“He made up for it with his sniffer. Achill had an excellent nose for sniffing out narcotics, which was his favorite thing to do,” Kelley recalled. “Dogs, like people, have different personalities. Some dogs are very aggressive and want to fight people. Achill was more of a play-driven dog who wanted to sniff for drugs.”

Achill and Kelley were a team with a reputation, a tandem who were contacted on numerous occasions by other law enforcement agencies.

“Many times we were called by narcotics agents to assist with their investigations,” Kelley said. “I wish I could say I played an integral part in all this, but all I did was hold the leash.”

During his career Achill sniffed out tens of thousands of dollars in narcotics and more than half a million dollars in cash.

Achill’s reward each time he detected drugs was a simple one: a tennis ball.

“I always made sure he had a treasure trove of them in his kennel at my house,” Kelley said.

A police dog is part of his human partner’s family. Such was the case with Achill, Kelley, his wife, Meghan, and their sons, Shamus Jr., 9, and Murphy, 8.

Achill was a third son, as explained by Shamus.

“When Achill would get mad at my boys he would always find my boys’ favorite toy, chew it up and leave it on the carpet,” Shamus chuckled.

One of the most rewarding parts of the K-9 unit for Kelley was the public relations aspect, as Achill and he would visit schools and attend other community events.”

“Giving families the opportunity to meet Achill, pet him and put them in a comfortable position to ask questions or inform me about something going on in their neighborhood makes these four-legged officers worth their weight in gold,” Kelley said.

This is the last K-9 for Kelley.

“It’s a lot of responsibility. A main reason why I decided not to get another dog is the time commitment,” he said. “You don’t punch out and go home. With my boys growing up and being involved in multiple sports I just can’t juggle it all. It’s just not going to work.”

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