JONY WAS PART of the Melrose Police Department’s first ever K-9 program. (Courtesy Photo)

Published in the July 8, 2016 edition

MELROSE — Chief Michael L. Lyle regrets to inform the community that the Melrose Police Department’s K-9 Jony passed away suddenly over the holiday weekend.

A 9-year-old German shepherd, Jony was born in Gelnica, Slovakia, but arrived in the United States when he was 10 months old. He worked with the Melrose Police Department as part of its first ever and only K-9 program.

Members of the Melrose Police Department wore black mourning bands this week and the flag outside the station sat at half-mast Wednesday in honor of Jony.

K-9 Jony was paired with Patrol Officer Joseph H. Donovan. Together, the two of them successfully tracked suspects and searched for narcotics in Melrose, Malden, Stoneham, Reading, Chelsea, Wakefield, Saugus, Somerville and Tewksbury.

In 2015, Jony retired from service after an eye infection developed in to an inoperable detached retina and cataract in his right eye, threatening his vision and the eye itself. He remained in the care of Officer Donovan and his family during his retirement.

“Jony was a beloved member of the Melrose Police Department and served us well over his eight years of dedicated service,” Lyle said. “He retired after a stellar career and enjoyed his retirement with Officer Donovan. Jony will always be remembered and will certainly be missed throughout the Police Department and community.”

Officer Donovan and K-9 Jony developed their training skills through the Middlesex County Sheriff’s K-9 Academy. They further enhanced their skills through the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department K-9 program.

Over the course of his career, Jony assisted in locating at least nine wanted suspects and proved his worth in locating missing persons in Melrose and neighboring communities. He also demonstrated his skills during visits with seniors at the Milano Center, elementary schools and the Junior Police Academy.

Donations in K-9 Jony’s memory, to be used to help pay for a new K-9 for the Melrose Police, may be donated online at www.mavestadog.org/ws/pages/donate.php (choose General Fund; at Department to Benefit type in “Melrose PD”) or you can send directly to Massachusetts Vest-a-Dog, Inc., PO Box 48, Walpole, MA 02081 (please write “Melrose PD” in memo of check).