Deputies with the Fayette County sheriff’s office are mourning the death of one of their K9 officers.
Niko, a Belgian Maliois, joined the Fayette County sheriff’s office in 2001.
According to a press release, Niko was a multi-purpose K9. He was certified through the West Virginia Police K9 Association and the National Association of Police Working Dogs in narcotics detection, tracking and suspect apprehension.
Niko actively served the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office until his retirement in 2012. Since his retirement, Niko has lived a comfortable life at the home of his handler, Chief Deputy Mike Fridley. Due to his advanced age and painfully debilitating physical condition, Chief Deputy Fridley made the heart-wrenching decision to have Niko humanely euthanized today.
During his career as a member of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, Niko was actively involved in the seizure of large quantities of illegal drugs during the search of both vehicles and residences. His largest single drug find was probably the seizure of nearly a half-kilo of cocaine, with an estimated street value of approximately $50,000.00, but he was also involved in the seizure of thousands of prescription pills, several pounds of marijuana and countless seizures of small quantities of illegal drugs. Niko was regularly called upon to conduct drug searches at local schools.
Niko was also instrumental in the capture of several fugitives. Affectionately known by his fellow Deputies as the “Attack Fox,” due to his small stature, Niko was fast, agile and incredibly effective when tasked with the apprehension of fugitives. He was often called upon by other agencies throughout Southern West Virginia to assist in the tracking and apprehension of fugitives. In one incident he was called to an apartment complex in Oak Hill to assist with the arrest of a fugitive from New Jersey. When the suspect fled out the rear door of the apartment he proved no match for Niko’s speed and was quickly apprehended. During the investigation of an armed robbery at a local convenience store in Oak Hill, Niko was instrumental in locating the pistol used during this robbery. The pistol was hidden in a hollow tree stump and covered with leaves, so it is quite likely that officers would have failed to locate this important evidence if not for Niko’s keen nose.
When he wasn’t busy catching bad guys and taking illegal drugs off of the streets, Niko enjoytravelinging to local schools, fairs, festivals, summer camps and other public venues to put on demonstrations of his skills. During his career Niko made hundreds of public appearances and was regularly featured in newspaper articles and on local television. He even made a cameo appearance in the Animal Planet television show, “Country Justice,” featuring several members of the Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit. Thousands of children and adults delighted in watching Niko find drugs and demonstrate his suspect apprehension ability. Niko was a great ambassador for the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office.
“Niko was my ‘partner in crime’ throughout most of my career with the Sheriff’s Office,” said Chief Deputy Mike Fridley. “We had a lot of good times together, and it breaks my heart to lose Niko. It’s like losing a member of your family.”