LINWOOD —Police officers and their K-9 partners said goodbye to Rosko on Monday as the 81/2-year-old Atlantic City K-9, suffering from cancer, was euthanized at Red Bank Veterinary Hospital.

Rosko, who had joined Atlantic City’s K-9 unit in 2005, had a large cancerous mass in his body that had begun affecting his eating habits and mobility last week.

“K-9 Rosko was not only a good street dog, but brought many smiles to the children and schools that he did demonstrations for,” Atlantic City police Officer Joe Rodriguez said of his K-9 partner in a letter. “He was a loyal partner, a true professional, but, more importantly, a better friend to all.”

Before Rosko was taken to the hospital at about 3 p.m. Monday, he did one final round of exercises at the Atlantic County John “Sonny” Burke K9 Academy with Rodriguez.

When Rodriguez took Rosko to be euthanized, both were greeted with a full salute from officers and their K-9 partners from around South Jersey.

Officers represented departments from Atlantic City, Egg Harbor Township, Evesham Township, Hazlet Township, Linwood, Logan Township, Millville, Northfield, Ocean City, Somers Point, Stafford Township and West Deptford.

Atlantic City Officer Frank Timek, who is president of the state’s U.S. Police Canine Association, said he was not surprised by the turnout.

“Joey’s doing something everyone has to go through,” Timek said of Rodriguez. “It’s really hard, people don’t understand it.”

Rosko was Rogriguez’s third K-9 partner in his nearly two-decade career.

Timek said K-9 handlers not only train with their dogs, but also take care of them at home. The hours they spend together make them a team, logging almost endless hours together.

“Essentially you’re spending more time with the dog than your family,” he said.

Rosko was imported from the Czech Republic and attended the K-9 academy in 2005.

“I knew from first glance that he would be my partner and if I could gain his loyalty, we could accomplish great things,” Rodriguez said.

Some of those great things included capturing Christopher Blank in 2006 after Blank shot two Egg Harbor Township officers when he fled from a motor vehicle stop.

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