ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Police Department is sad to announce the passing of one of the police service dogs, K-9 Pit. Pit’s death was unexpected and a result of an unforeseen medical issue.

Pit was born in Germany and imported into the country in 2015, specifically to serve the community of Atascadero. Pit was partnered with Corporal Chris Hester for six and a half years, and the team was assigned to patrol. In addition to the standard ongoing training, Corporal Hester and Pit were fortunate to complete a specialized urban tracking course as well as the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Special Enforcement K-9 School. Following that training, Corporal Hester and Pit were integrated into the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Special Enforcement (SWAT) Detail. While on patrol, Pit had a big impact on our Department and community and had many accomplishments. One of the best involved tracking an at-risk elderly adult who went missing from home in the middle of the night. Corporal Hester and Pit certainly contributed to the incident’s successful outcome.

The Atascadero Police Department’s K-9 program was started in 1987. Pit was the ninth police service dog to serve the community. Although all of the former K-9s were special, Corporal Hester and Pit were frequently recognized for their outstanding work; they truly set the bar. The Department would like to recognize Corporal Hester for his dedication to the K-9 program as well as his skill as a K-9 handler. The K-9 program is largely funded by donations and they would like to thank the many supporters throughout the community. The K-9 Unit is still active with K-9 “Luke” and his handler Corporal Chris Hall.