K9 Duke retires as Animal Services teaching dog|
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The Board of Health today paid tribute to Animal Services dog bite prevention
instructor K9 Duke, who is retiring after a 12-year career teaching Toronto
children about dog safety.
"Duke has performed a valuable service helping children learn how to behave
around dogs," said Councillor John Filion, Chair of the Board of Health. "He
really connected well with children of all ages and in the process helped to
reduce injuries from dog bites."
Medical Officer of Health Dr. David McKeown presented Duke with a certificate
of recognition, a collage of photos marking his achievements, a bandana and a
special bag of cookies.
Through 12 years of service, Duke visited more than 100,000 school-age children
in 3,000 classroom appearances and another 500 community events. Duke-a
handsome, big brown-eyed, golden lab-also graced the pages of many newspapers
and magazines and appeared on many TV and children's shows.
K9 Duke was born in North York's Animal Centre in March 1992 and in September
1992 he officially joined the Animal Services' family as part of a new Dog Bite
"After being with Duke for a few days, I knew there was something special about
him," said education officer Robert Meerburg, Duke's longtime handler
By the time he was a year old, Duke learned more than 25 voice and hand
commands and was ready to enter the schools and deliver his message of dog bite
prevention through safe interaction.
When Duke was not in school, he could be found at Sunnybrook Health Sciences
Centre visiting patients, the elderly and the disabled. His eagerly awaited
weekly visits were dubbed "D-Day," or Duke Day, by patients and staff.
Robert and Duke are now grooming Cody as Duke's replacement teaching dog at
Toronto Animal Services.
Frank Giorno, Toronto Public Health, 416-338-7974