GEORGE COUNTY, Miss. (WKRG) – A beloved K-9 is back on the force for the George County Sheriff’s Office.

Magic, an eight-year-old Belgian Malinois, retired with his original handler in April 2022. Sheriff Keith Havard decided to reinstate him with a new partner in January to fill a need on the force from a second dog’s retirement.

“He never missed a beat. He never lost it. I mean, these dogs, they hold on. And of course, they train more than we do,” said K-9 deputy Will Leonard. “He had about seven years of working the roads here in George County. He knows what he’s doing and I trust him 100%.”

Leonard and his new four-legged partner were familiar with each other before being paired together. Magic first joined the force in 2016 and Leonard’s worked in law enforcement in the area for 11 years. Becoming a K-9 deputy is one of the few roles he hadn’t previously held while working corrections, investigations, narcotics and road patrol.

Before joining the force initially, Magic underwent about 18 months of training. The handlers go through 200 hours before they can respond to calls with the K-9. Magic now lives with Leonard off-the-clock, too.

Magic through the years

“Nothing like having your best friend with you all day, every day. We’re pretty much together 24 hours a day. These dogs are very intriguing with what they’re capable of doing. It definitely makes the job easier. It is a huge asset to the sheriff’s office and also to the citizens,” Leonard said.

Leonard says Magic is a great family pet and loves attention and to be pet while at home and around the courthouse in-between calls. When he gets in the patrol car or receives a command, he instantly goes into work mode.

Magic is a dual-purpose dog, trained in tracking to find missing persons, identify illegal drugs and, in some cases, apprehend suspects. He loves going to work each day to serve George County.

“When he sees me get in my uniform, he knows it’s time to go to work. He’ll start spinning around, getting real happy and when we walk out the door, he’s in patrol mode. When we pull-in the driveway at the end of the day, he goes back to being a family pet. He feeds off my energy and he’s really smart and aware of his surroundings at all times,” Leonard said.

Belgian Malinois like Magic typically serve 10-12 total years policing while they are still at their optimal skill level.

The pair plans to get back to doing school and community visits to teach about Magic’s purpose and skills and the sheriff’s office in general very soon.