Left to his own decision-making, K-9 Yukon would have doggedly continued to sniff out explosives, track missing children, and provide security to the public. Instead, the regal black and tan German shepherd, currently recovering from surgery, has been retired from the Chester County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit after nearly nine years of service.
“I could tell; it was definitely time,” said Cpl. Brian Bolt, explaining that even though Yukon still eagerly awaited every assignment, his body was slowing down.
“Needless to say, we are sorry to lose Yukon, who has been an incredible asset to our office and the community,” said Chester County Sheriff Carolyn Bunny Welsh. “We appreciate the hard work and sacrifices required from both the dog and the handler to make them such a valuable and successful team.”
Bolt, a lifelong county resident, began working at the Sheriff’s Office in July 2008. In 2010, he joined the K-9 Unit and was paired with Yukon, a 1-year-old from West Germany, at the Vonder Haus Gill K-9 Academy in Ohio. The pair graduated with certifications in explosives detection, tracking, patrol, and article searches.
Since then, Bolt and Yukon have responded to many hundreds of calls. During security details, they crossed paths and brushed noses with a host of dignitaries, from aspiring Presidents to elected ones. They provided backup during periodic high-risk fugitive apprehensions, and they participated in countless searches, ranging from pursuing armed robbery suspects to locating lost children.
In 2016, the team joined the U.S. Police Canine Association (USPCA) and competed for the first time in the USPCA national competition. The team won four trophies, excelling in every category for bomb detection. The following year, Bolt, who returns to the courts division of the Sheriff’s Office, earned his K-9 trainers’ certificate as well as USPCA judging status. The pair certified again nationally in 2018.
“They were a great K-9 team and worked well together,” said Sgt. Paul Bryant Jr., a veteran K-9 handler, trainer and judge.
Lt. Harry McKinney, who heads the K-9 Unit, agreed.
“It has been a privilege to work with Corporal Bolt and see his development and devotion to the K-9 program,” said McKinney, who watched the two train and earn its first certification in Ohio. “Yukon graduated as top in his class and has worked as a true professional ever since. They have been an amazing team.”
Bolt said he couldn’t have participated in the K-9 program without the unwavering support of his wife, Lauren Bolt. He said he and his wife are eager to reward his partner for his faithful service with more time for relaxation and play.
“He’s earned it,” Bolt said.