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Red Bank, N.J.'s K-9s Hunter and Eko retire after years of service. So what's next for them?

2 K-9s retire from Red Bank, N.J. police. What's next for them?
2 K-9s retire from Red Bank, N.J. police. What's next for them? 01:59

RED BANK, N.J. - The Red Bank Police Department bid farewell Friday to two beloved veteran K-9 officers.

They'll now be living full-time with the officers they worked with for nearly a decade each. 

You might call it a retirement that has gone to the dogs. A quiet exit just wasn't possible for the two, who go by Hunter and Eko. They both officially retired from the Red Bank Police Department. 

"This has been a great journey. A great ride," Officer Tanner Shea, Eko's partner, and new owner. 

"I can't be luckier to have a great career with him, and I'm going to miss him. There's no doubt about it," Hunter's partner Officer Stanley Balmer said. 


The two Belgian Malinois K-9s are pioneers, being the first - and so far only - two dogs to ever serve in the department's K-9 program, while also working throughout Monmouth County. Hunter served for nine years, and Eko for seven. Friday, each received special plaques alongside their officers. 

"Overall, we got a lot of drugs off the street, stopped a lot of bad guys," Balmer said. "I've had five people try to stab me. He stopped all 5 just by being there."

Both were trained to detect narcotics, and Eko was also trained in patrol tactics. Officials say K-9s are also instrumental in helping with de-escalation. 

Like professional athletes, though, they can only work for so long. 

"He's a machine at work... puts his life on the line whenever I ask him to," She said. "And at home, he likes to sit and play with our kids... belly rubs and treats all day long."


Both dogs will be retiring with their partners at their homes. 

"So he's part of the family. Gets along with my kids. My kids treat him like every other pet at home, and he's just a loving member of the family," Balmer said. 

Hunter and Eko haven't formally met, since they're both alpha males, which could make the encounter possibly dangerous. 

As of now, the dogs will not be replaced. This marks the end of Red Bank PD's K-9 program, something the officers hope to bring back. 

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