Feel-Good Friday: The K-9 Victory Project and St. Charles County Honor K-9 'Tank' on His Retirement

Tank and Handler Officer Courtney Spiess. (Credit: St. Charles County Police Department)

Working dogs are a variety of particular breeds that are intensely trained for a specific function or task. Herding dogs, K-9 dogs, military dogs, search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs, and other service dogs fall into this category, and the breeds and roles are always expanding. 


One of the dogs I follow on Instagram is a three-legged Pomeranian, Yorkie, Poodle, and Papillon mix. Jeanie provides comfort and support to people in hospitals and nursing homes, especially those who are amputees, like Jeanie. Jeanie even has a book, Jeanie the 3-Legged Dog; I Don’t Need Four FeetJeanie is also involved in a literacy program where children read their favorite books to her, has won Hero Dog awards, and even saved her family's elderly cockatiel from a hawk attack! Did I tell you she's also a cancer survivor? Girlfriend earns her keep and is also proof that working dogs come in all shapes and sizes.

While my three are therapy for me, I cannot in good conscience try to register them as therapy dogs since their greatest function these days is chasing squirrels and getting scratches and belly rubs. What I have never considered is what happens to these working dogs when they become too old (or injured) to perform the tasks in which they were trained. Did you know that like humans, dogs can experience feelings of loss, get depressed, or exhibit abnormal or aggressive behavior when they are no longer able to perform their usual duties? Even working dogs like K-9s, which often are allowed to stay with their handlers, experience this; that is why handlers have to be re-trained on how to help their new housebound pet transition into a less active lifestyle.

K9 Victory Project is a beautiful organization that helps with this.


K9 Victory Project provides safe haven and promotes behavioral stability to working K9s who would otherwise be excluded from adoption or re-entering society. We provide care, structure, and direction to those K9s that are without options and in many cases indefinite confinement or euthanasia. Your support allows us to provide personalized training and rehabilitation services to these K9s as well as education and refresher training for adoptive handlers. Our goal is to place these K9s in forever working homes where dignity is achieved through a renewed sense of purpose.

One sweet working doggo who will find a new sense of purpose is named Tank, a K-9 search and rescue dog with the St. Charles County Police Department. After seven years of service, Tank was retired, and the department threw him a big party where many in the community came out to give him honor. 

Dozens piled into the St. Charles County Police Department headquarters on Friday to honor one of the most lauded officers in the department’s history.

It was standing room only as police and other well-wishers celebrated Tank, a K9 officer who has been with the department since 2016 and boasts a remarkable resume as a search and rescue dog.

The ceremony included dog-sized donuts, gourmet dog biscuits and enough behind-the-ear scratches and belly rubs to last a lifetime for the 8-year-old Hanoverian scenthound who retired Friday.

Tank is credited with helping find and save 13 missing people during his career. His tracking skills also led to the arrest of multiple bank robbers, escaped inmates and homicide suspects. In all, more than $100,000 worth of drugs were discovered thanks to the hound’s keen nose.


And I just got out of bed and sat at my laptop. Tank leaves an average human, let alone an average dog, wanting. K-9 Victory Project paid tribute to Tank with a sweet photo spread.


Tracking is hard on any being, and Tank has two ruptured discs, as well as other injuries incurred from his heroic acts, as a local magazine detailed.

During his career, Tank helped locate and save 10 missing people who were at risk of harm due to mental or physical health needs; tracked multiple bank robbers, escaped inmates and homicide suspects; played an essential role locating key evidence for an armed robbery case in St. Charles City and a homicide case in Bridgeton; and located a combined total of $100,000 in cash associated with illegal narcotics during two notable drug arrests.

Assisting in a 2019 traffic stop, Tank was exposed to fentanyl. He needed Narcan and an emergency trip to Carter Pet Hospital to save his life.

In 2022, Tank found a missing teen who was in the middle of a mental health crisis, helping to save her life.

As part of the consent agenda at its Sept. 11 meeting, the St. Charles County Council approved releasing Tank from duty with the police department and allowing him to enjoy a life of leisure with Spiess and her family.

Prior to the consent agenda vote, St. Charles County Police Chief Kurt Frisz explained to the council, “Tank has been a great asset to the community and to our department for seven years. He was solely responsible for finding missing children, elderly people, and suspects in hiding. Tank is a pure tracking dog. We do look to replace him with the same breed and hope to have the same success.”

“Tank has two ruptured disks,” Frisz said, “because tracking is a very physically demanding job. He is recovering from a second ruptured disk surgery and hopefully will be able to have a long retirement at home with Courtney Spiess, his handler.” 


Thanks to the work of the K9 Victory Project, Spiess will be able to get re-trained to assist Tank in finding a new focus for his skills, and daily delight in simpler things in life. The K9 Victory Project is a worthy organization that cares for and supports working dogs everywhere and the humans who train, care for, handle, and love them for all stages of their too-short lives.



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