After years of working closely with his police partner, Talon is retired to home and family

photo provided by Smith family – Palmetto Police Corp. Tom Smith and police K-9 Talon in 2005 with 50lbs of seized cannabis discovered by Talon. Talon was retired in July after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he continues to live at the Smith family home in Palmetto. Talon participated in 694 arrests during his 6.5 year-long law enforcement career with Smith. Photo courtesy of the Smith family.

 – gagostin@bradenton.com from the Bradenton Herald

Work is much too quiet these days for Cpl. Tom Smith.

The thunderous bark of the partner that accompanied Smith at work for the past 6½ years is gone.

Now, the 10-year veteran of the Palmetto Police Department is back to working shifts alone.

Smith’s shifts with Talon ended this summer when the 8-year-old dog was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Smith took Talon to a veterinarian July 15, expecting to hear of hip or elbow problems.

Instead, vets found anaplastic sarcoma that had already spread into Talon’s lymphatic system.

“For some reason, I was never thinking cancer. I was thinking we could work him a couple more years,” Smith said. “Then this came out of nowhere.”

The partner who’s assisted Smith in 271 felony arrests and 423 misdemeanor arrests is retired from police service and spending his final days with Smith and his family.

Talon’s duty now is to enjoy life as a full-time family dog with Smith, his wife, Cindy, and their three sons Alex, 19; T.J., 14; and Brandon, 12.

The Smiths have the family dogs they’ve chosen – a pug and a Japanese chin – and Talon, the German shepherd that was born in Europe, bred as a police service dog, sold to the Palmetto Police Department and assigned to Smith in 2002.

In turn, Talon also was assigned to Smith’s family then, as police dogs are required to live with their handlers.

Having a live-in K-9 concerned Cindy Smith, as a mother.

Talon’s razor-sharp teeth can easily put blood blisters on the limbs of someone brave enough to get in a bite suit used in training.

“When we first got him I wasn’t so sure, being that he’s trained to attack, about what kind of situation we were getting ourselves into,” Cindy said. “But right away, I saw he’s so loving and very sociable and took to our family right away.”

A photo album dedicated to Talon shows his family side and police service.

There’s a photo of a young Talon with a death grip on a bite suit and one with him proudly posing next to 50 pounds of marijuana he located at the post office.

At home, there’s a snapshot of Talon with the Smiths on Christmas, and one of him towering over their pug, Kirby, and Japanese chin, Precious.

pvidela@bradenton.com – Palmetto Police Corp. Tom Smith his recently retired police K-9 Talon. Talon was retired in July after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he continues to live at the Smith family home in Palmetto. Talon participated in 694 arrests during his 6.5 year-long law enforcement career with Smith. PAUL VIDELA/pvidela@bradenton.com

“Talon has not just been a great police dog but he has been a super family pet,” Tom said. “He’s always there when you need him.”

In return, the Smiths are there for Talon.

“Retirement has been hard on him,” Tom said.

When Tom’s at work, Cindy comforts Talon, who howls and paces for his handler.

“He’ll lay by the door and wait for Tom to come home, and every once in awhile he’ll remember why he’s upset and cry and howl again,” Cindy said.

Alex makes sure Talon gets his exercise, T.J. takes him for walks, and Brandon lets him lie at the foot of his bed at night.

“You go through all the memories of him, and you wonder what life is going to be like without him,” Cindy said.

Grace Gagliano, Bradenton city reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 2620.


pvidela@bradenton.com – Palmetto Police Corp. Tom Smith’s recently retired police K-9 Talon, at center, poses with Smith’s sons, from left, Alex, 19, Brandon, 12, and Thomas, 14. Talon and the other two affable Smith pooches Kirby, at left, and Precious live happily together, with the occasional squabble over prized chew toys. Talon, however, is the only dog in the family who can claim 694 arrests over a 6.5 year-long law enforcement career. PAUL VIDELA/pvidela@bradenton.com

-I wish you a long lasting retirement Talon, congratulations on a wonderful career and thank you for your service.

One Response to “After years of working closely with his police partner, Talon is retired to home and family”

  1. Thank you for the beautiful story of a wonderful friend. I too have a German shepherd. They are the best!
    My prayers are with all of you.

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