Somerset County K-9 Unit’s Newest Member: Patriot

Somerset County Sheriff Darrin J. Russo, Officer David Daneker and Branchburg 6th Grader Timmy Meister introduced K-9 to the world at the naming ceremony. (Photo: Somerset County Sheriff’s Office.)

After sifting through more than 1,000 suggestions submitted by county residents, Somerset County Sheriff’s Office officials have decided on the new name for the office’s newest K-9 member:


The winning name was submitted by two entrants into the naming contest, Branchburg 6th Grader Timmy Miessler and Bedminster resident Ruthanne Ungerleider.

The male Golden Retriever is currently finishing his formal training in sniffing out illegal drugs such as fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine.

“We’re thrilled to have K-9 Patriot join our growing K-9 Unit in the fight against opioids and other illegal drugs in our community, and in other communities in partnership with state and federal agencies,” Somerset County Sheriff Russo said in a press release. “We’re grateful to the public for all their suggestions, and are proud to have selected ‘Patriot’ as his new name as a Somerset County K-9 Officer.”

Patriot will fill the paw prints left by K-9 Apex, a 12-year-old German Shepherd who is retiring and has been on loan with his handler Officer David Daneker with federal agencies removing thousands of pounds and tens of millions of dollars of illegal drugs from circulation, according to the release.

K-9 Apex will continue to live with Officer Daneker following retirement, and K-9 Patriot will join them at home and in the field fighting the opioid epidemic, according to the release.

Somerset County’s K-9 Unit was established in 2002 and has more than doubled under Sheriff Russo to nine K-9 officers and six skilled handlers, according to the release. The demands of the position are unique within the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, requiring handlers to be passionate and willing to dedicate their lives to law enforcement while assuming the many 24/7 responsibilities of a K-9 handler, according to the release.

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