K9 officer 'Rio' retires

It was a special day at the Sioux Falls Police Department.

K9 officer Rio retired Thursday. Rio spent seven years with Sioux Falls police.

According to police, Rio was essential in diffusing certain situations that would have required more assertive action.

While Rio will go on to be a normal dog and get to relax, police say the feeling is bittersweet.

"It's like losing part of the family," said Lieutenant David McIntire. "We see them on a daily basis, but the K9 handler especially cares for these dogs, they live with the handler and they train with them regularly, so they spend a lot of time together and they're in the car on patrol with them every minute."

There are five K9 units in the Sioux Falls Police Department. Each goes through 16 weeks of training before going on patrol.