HomeMedford NewsPolice give K-9 Rio a proper retirement sendoff

Police give K-9 Rio a proper retirement sendoff

Dog’s handler also receives a service award

After eight years of assisting with explosive sweeps, suspect tracking and other police-related investigations, Medford’s K-9 Rio has retired.

Rio and his partner, Sgt. Joseph Canuso, were honored at a township council meeting on Feb. 7, when Mayor Charles “Chuck” Watson read a proclamation in honor of the K-9. The animal’s last day of service was Jan. 27.

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“K-9s are loyal, loving, devoted and (are) known to knowingly place themselves in harm’s way, make the ultimate sacrifice (and) lay down their lives for their partners,” the proclamation stated.


Medford’s police department has supported an official K-9 unit for decades. In the early 1970s, a facility was built on Fostertown Road to house the township’s newly formed K-9 unit. It had housing for four dogs, as well as training equipment.

Judge was the first K-9 in the police department, serving from 1971 to 1975. Since then, there have been 17 others. The unit currently includes K-9s Hugo and Oakley, handled by Cpl. Edwin McKemey. Hugo specializes in sniffing out narcotics; Oakley specializes in explosive detection and tracking of missing persons and suspects.

Along with recognizing Rio, Police Chief Arthur Waterman cited Canuso for his 18 years in the K-9 unit with a service award. He was selected for the unit in 2005, and with his first K-9 partner, Nomis, attended the state police K-9 detection K-9 patrol courses. They were then assigned to the state’s Detection and Render Safe Task Force.

Medford Police Sgt. Joseph Canuso and K-9 Rio were honored at a Medford Township Council meeting Feb. 7. K-9 Rio retired from the department after eight years of service. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE MEDFORD TOWNSHIP POLICE DEPARTMENT

Canuso and Nomis were deployed around the county, state and region, even working the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium. Nomis retired that year after a decade of service. Rio joined the team with Canuso in 2015, and they take part in a number of operations in the region.

Canuso became an assistant trainer of the state police’s K-9 detection course and has taught other teams in the region. Waterman said that on a personal note, he remembers the enthusiasm and passion Canuso showed when he was selected for the K-9 unit.

“That passion never left, that enthusiasm, that drive and professionalism, has never left,” the chief said.

Paul Chenier, father of retired officer Troy Chenier, presented a plaque to Canuso in honor of his work.


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