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GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) — A beloved K-9 officer has been laid to rest after passing away over the weekend. Thirteen-year-old Zito received a police escort Friday after serving the Galloway Township Police Department for more than 10 years.
It’s not the way Sgt. Mark D’esposito wanted to bring his partner home. He was a decorated K-9 officer who lived a life devoted to service.
But when Officer Zito wasn’t at work, he showered his partner, Sgt. D’esposito, with love and affection.
“They don’t make police dogs like him,” Sgt. D’esposito said. “He’s the kind of dog that every handler wishes they could get.”
Zito was 13-and-a-half-years-old when he took his last breath. He had a 10-year career on the Galloway Township Police force.
Zito found more than 150 narcotics and located dozens of suspects throughout his career.
“He has the reputation of being the hardest-hitting dog that the academy has ever seen,” Sgt. D’esposito said. “He looks like one of your best free safeties you’ll see in football. He runs full steam at people and will throw his entire body weight into someone.”
But age eventually caught up with Zito.
“He had intestinal cancer,” Delaware Valley Veterinary Hospital owner Steven Milden said. “So it stopped his ability to absorb nutrients.”
But Zito lived a good life and his partner says he’ll be missed.
“Just having him next to me,” Sgt. D’esposito said. “He was my best friend for many, many years. He was my wingman when I was younger. He helped me propose to my wife.”
A wife and two kids later, Officer Zito even made it into the family pictures.
Now, Sgt. D’esposito will cherish the good times, knowing no new memories can be made as Officer Zito heads to his final resting place.
“It’s not the easiest decision but think about the good times and you’re happy you have it,” Sgt. D’esposito said.