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Longtime K9 with Game and Inland Fisheries retires after cancer diagnosis

(WDBJ)
Published: Jan. 31, 2020 at 12:25 PM EST
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A nine-year veteran of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) has retired.

Justice and his handler, Sr. Officer Wayne Billhimer, had worked together since January 2011.

“Over the past nine years, we’ve been lucky to have worked on several outstanding cases together,” said Billhimer of Justice. “The one that stands out to me is tracking a lost 12-year-old girl out of Staunton. Justice was able to track straight to her and bring her back to her family.”

Justice was diagnosed with cancer in late 2019. After surgery to remove a tumor, he started undergoing chemotherapy.

Upon his retirement, Justice was adopted by Billhimer and his wife.

“I’m proud to say he’s officially part of our family now, although, honestly, that’s how we’ve always seen him,” Billhimer said.

“K9 Justice was an exceptional member of the DGIF K9 unit,” said Major Scott Naff of the Virginia Conservation Police. “Justice quickly learned his duties and then some. He was even rumored to be able to count creeled trout on the trout streams. He was extremely loyal to his handler, Sr. Officer Wayne Billhimer. Justice was an exceptional tracker and once tracked a turkey poacher for over three miles through rugged mountain terrain until officers located him with a silenced rifle and illegal turkeys. Justice was great with kids and the public, and was frequently requested to attend programs and events across the state. Justice was also the co-star of the extremely popular lip-sync video that was part of the Facebook law enforcement lip-sync challenge.”

Justice is a nine-year-old black American Labrador Retriever, and was one of the dogs used to start the DGIF K9 CPO program in 2011.

“There are a lot of reasons he’s special, but one is his drive. He’s very energetic. He has the personality to want to please. I believe his drive and willingness to work make him one of the best dogs for the job,” said Billhimer.

While Justice excelled at tracking fugitives and lost people, according to the department, he was also an exceptional representative of the DGIF K9 CPO program.

“Everyone wants to come up and meet Justice,” said Billhimer. “He loves the extra rubs on the head and he enjoys the public. It’s a great bridge to bring the public to learn about the mission of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Having him there starts a conversation that probably wouldn’t have happened without having Justice there.”

In case you’re interested in helping support Justice in his retirement and cancer treatment, the

has started a Caring for the CPO K9s fund.

will help DGIF’s K9 program and handlers of retired dogs like Justice with veterinary bills, wellness-related costs, and more.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ7. All rights reserved.

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