Orange Police K-9 Orka signs off for final time

K-9 Orka has retired from the Orange Police Department.

K-9 Orka has retired from the Orange Police Department. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Orange Police Officer Christopher Bisceglia with retired K-9 Orka.

Orange Police Officer Christopher Bisceglia with retired K-9 Orka. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Orange Police Officer Christopher Bisceglia plays with retired K-9 Orka.

Orange Police Officer Christopher Bisceglia plays with retired K-9 Orka. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Orange Police Officer Christopher Bisceglia with retired K-9 Orka.

Orange Police Officer Christopher Bisceglia with retired K-9 Orka. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer

Published: 01-05-2024 2:51 PM

ORANGE — One of the Police Department’s most popular officers recently retired from the force following a career that spanned roughly six decades … in dog years.

K-9 Orka fulfilled her final shift on Dec. 29 after 7½ years on the job, having joined the force in June 2016. Her handler, Officer Christopher Bisceglia, said the 9-year-old Belgian Malinois has developed arthritis, slowing her down.

“She did exceptional,” Bisceglia said, adding that his companion’s absence is already felt at the Police Station. “It’s different, because she’s always greeting people with a bark. She’s close-knit with the other officers. Everyone’s noticing that she’s not here.”

Bisceglia explained the department’s K-9 program is now in transition. A different officer will have to become a K-9 handler and get a dog because Bisceglia, for personal reasons, cannot adopt another pooch at this time. It’s a decision he did not make lightly.

“I love the position. [Police K-9s] do so much for the community,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for us.”

Police Chief James Sullivan marked Orka’s final shift with some poignant words over the police radio.

“Orka, you have met and exceeded every expectation. On an occasion, even showing the boys how things are done,” he said, adding that Orka won over the hearts of people young and old and wishing her “a long, healthy, happy retirement, filled with rest, belly rubs and lots of snacks.”

Orka, who Bisceglia said is the department’s first female K-9, followed in the footsteps of Matte and Jet, who were German shepherds. She was also the department’s first dual-purpose K-9, meaning she is certified in patrol work as well as drug detection.

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Sullivan told Orka that she and Bisceglia have “tracked, chased, apprehended some dangerous people” and have tracked and brought home “some of our vulnerable citizens that have lost their way.”

Bisceglia mentioned Orka, in her first year on the job, found a missing child with autism in less than 15 minutes.

He said Orka was born in the Czech Republic before being moved to a vendor in New Mexico. He purchased Orka fully trained from Joshua Morton, owner of Canine Tactical in Iowa. The dog came to Bisceglia pre-named after a Marvel Comics character.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-930-4120.