The South Korean Army retired a scout dog, famed for his role in locating a missing teenager in 2019, from surveillance duty due to old age on Thursday, officials said, concluding the canine’s decade-long career.
The armed service held a retirement ceremony for the dog, Dalgwan, at the 32nd Infantry Division’s maneuver battalion unit in Sejong, about 120 km south of Seoul, reports Yonhap News Agency.
The 10-year-old German Shepherd rose to national prominence in 2019 when he played a pivotal role in the search mission for then-14-year-old Cho Eunnuri who had been missing for 10 days on a mountain in Cheongju, 137 km south of Seoul.
Dalgwan was the first to discover Cho alive, along with his handler Sgt. Maj. Park Sang-jin, in the mission that involved over 5,700 personnel from the police, the fire department and the military.
Cho and her family were present at the ceremony at the unit, where he will remain a military dog with a lighter support mission.
The Army said it decided to retire the veteran dog from surveillance missions due to his age — roughly in the 70s in human age.
Born in 2012, Dalgwan underwent the Army’s grueling 20-week training for military dogs the following year and was assigned to the 32nd Division.
There are currently some 790 military dogs across the Army and the Air Force, assigned to such duties as patrolling and tracking, according to the Defence Ministry.
More than 40 military dogs have been relieved from service this year, with retired dogs spending the rest of their lives either at the barracks or with adopted families.