By ANGYE MORRISON
After more than eight years of service with the Statesboro Police Department, 3,146 deployments and 832 arrest assists, K9 Rio has retired. His last sign-off was on May 10.
The sign-off was recorded by Cpl. Kyle Briley, Rio’s human partner, and posted to social media. The video has been viewed more than 18 million times on TikTok, and more than 40 million times total on all the social media platforms where Briley posted it.
“I’m glad so many people viewed it on social media, but I don’t know what any of that means,” Rio says.
Rio was living in Germany before he was chosen to be a police dog.
“I was selected by a company based in Florida that took me under their wing and did the initial training,” he said. “A group of officers from the Statesboro Police Department came down and we had try-outs, and I was selected because I did the best that day.”
Rio was just 2 years old then. He’s 10 now, and still does his best every day, he said, no matter what he’s doing.
Since partnering with Briley at the SPD, he’s trained each week with Briley to make sure they were both on their toes. The pair also attended seminars to train with other teams and improve their skills. But the best part, Rio says, was when he had completed a task.
“My favorite part was getting my toy after doing a good job,” he said, smiling the way only a good boy can.
Rio says Briley, who is his dad, is a great handler and that, “We always look out for one another.”
Although he is OK with retirement, Rio says the day he realized he was starting to slow down was a difficult one for him and his dad.
“All the years of service were catching up,” he said. “I'm OK with retiring because I feel like I have left a legacy and really helped raise awareness about what K9s do, especially on a local level.”
Rio will continue to live with the Brileys. He says he’s been told that he is going to get a dog sibling — and he has definite feelings about it.
“I typically get along with dogs that I can have time to adjust to, so I'm sure in the end we will get along. So long as the new dog knows I'm the king of the house,” he said.
In the meantime, Rio has enjoyed a pup cup or two, and says he likes them “straight out of the cup.” He got to enjoy one from Brusters’ Real Ice Cream after his official sign-off from duty — complete with a bone-shaped treat on top.
“I ate that first,” he said, licking his chops and drooling a little at the memory.
Rio has also gotten lots and lots of well wishes from people all over the Boro…and beyond. He’s been relaxing, eating and just enjoying being a dog.
To all the young pups out there who aspire to become K9s, Rio has some advice: “Stay patient and keep going.”
After all, he said, it pays to be a good boy.