Madison County Sheriff's first K9 unit, Lida, was put down Monday. Deputy Lance Zaleski trained Lida and worked with her for eight and a half years. She was nearing retirement when veterinarians found severe ulcers in her stomach.
"The bosses left it up to me. We were going to try a laser treatment but after I saw her on Monday and how her condition deteriorated I said no, she deserves better than that," says Zaleski.
Lida had a very successful career, once sniffing out several pounds of marijuana and $50,000 that ultimately went to the Madison County drug unit.
For Lida, searching for drugs was really just like playing catch. Deputy Zaleski would take pseudo narcotics which would replicate the smell of the real thing and stuff them into toys. Then the two of them would go and play catch. So when Lida was searching for drugs in a home or a car, she was really just looking for her toy.
Sheriff Allen Riley knows how hard it is say goodbye to your partner in crime. He's worked side by side with three dogs throughout his career and each one touched his life.
"It's like a family member. You take it home, it lives with your family, you get real close to it. And everyday that dog is with you more than your spouse is," says Riley.
Riley is dedicated to continuing the tradition in Madison County. He will be working with legislatures to find more funding to replace Lida.
That next dog will have to find a new companion because Deputy Zaleski plans to hang up his badge in the next few years.
"No. I'm too close to retirement. I'm in my 40s. I'll let some young kid do that," says Zaleski.
But his memories of Lida will remain close to his heart and his home considering she's buried in his backyard.