Pete retires from Naugatuck PD

Canine Pete, a narcotics detecting black Labrador, is pictured above with handler Naugatuck police Officer Kevin Zainc demonstrating his ability to sniff out drugs at a Board of Education meeting in December 2011. Pete has retired after five years with the department. –FILE PHOTO

Pete, a narcotics detecting Black Labrador, is pictured above with handler Naugatuck police Officer Kevin Zainc demonstrating his ability to sniff out drugs at a Board of Education meeting in December 2011. Pete has retired after five years with the department. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — After five years of service to the Naugatuck Police Department, Pete is hanging up his nose.

Pete, a narcotics detecting 6-year-old black Labrador, has retired. On Tuesday night the Board of Mayor and Burgesses approved selling Pete for $1 to Officer Kevin Zainc, who had been Pete’s handler during the dog’s time on the force.

Zainc was reassigned from the patrol division to the detective bureau Jan. 4. Pete has been off the road since.

According to the department’s website, Pete came to the force through an endowment from the Kopcha family with the stipulation that the dog be named for the late, retired Waterbury police Sgt. Peter Kopcha.

Pete was trained to alert officers to the odor of controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine, crack, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine and steroids, according to the website. When Pete located the source of the odor, he would sit down near it.

Deputy Chief Joshua Bernegger said it’s time for Pete to retire.

The retirement of Pete leaves the department with one dog, Vane. Vane, a German Shephard, is a patrol dog, not a narcotics dog.

The department currently has no plans to replace Pete, Bernegger said.

“We don’t have any specified number of dogs. As the need and opportunity arises canine units are considered,” Bernegger said.

Bernegger said Pete cost the Kopcha family about $2,300 and cost the department approximately $800 a year in food and vet bills.

Members of the board spoke highly of Pete Tuesday night.

Mayor Robert Mezzo joked that while Pete won’t be receiving a pension, he will be getting free room and board.

Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi said that she was sad to see Pete leave the department.

“Pete was just a great dog, period, but I think he was also a great help to the police department. I personally support having dogs as part of the police department. I just want to wish him well in his retirement, and hope it’s full of kibbles and a lot of games of fetch,” Rossi said.

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