CONTACT: Matt Maisel
Director of Communications, City of Harrisburg
(717) 255-7295
[email protected]

March 20, 2023

HARRISBURG – For nearly seven years, K9 Zoe has served the citizens of Harrisburg with honor and distinction. On Monday, she was given her final walk as a member of the Harrisburg Police Bureau.

Zoe has cancer. On March 7, she was forced into an early retirement after being diagnosed with Lymphoma. She will be in the full-time care of her long-time handler, now owner, Corporal Don Bender and his family.

“Everyone has a once in a lifetime dog. For me, she’s that,” said Cpl. Bender. “Of all these K9s, you can’t ask for a better partner.”

Zoe was regaled by her fellow officers, K9s, friends, and family at a retirement ceremony Monday at the Martin Luther King Jr. City Government Center. She and Cpl. Bender were presented a proclamation by Mayor Wanda Williams. Zoe was then given her final walk in front of saluting officers, and received a radio send-off from Dauphin County 9-1-1 Dispatch.

“K-9 Zoe, Badge #987, since June 2016, you have protected the citizens, officers, and myself from harm without hesitation,” read the message over police radios and scanners. “We owe you everything for the dedication and sacrifices you have given us. Each day will remind me of the special bond we have as a K-9 team. Now, my job is to ensure you live retirement to the fullest. Thank you for serving the community and being my partner.”

Zoe, a Dutch Shepherd, was the Harrisburg Bureau of Police’s first female K9.

She was acquired by the Harrisburg Bureau of Police at no expense to the City of Harrisburg thanks to a donation made by the HKC K-9 Foundation. In her career, Zoe and Cpl. Bender were utilized more than 360 times, completing 19 Article Searches, 50 Apprehensions, 46 Building Searches, 71 Back-Up and Perimeter Assists, 90 Narcotics Vehicle/Residential/Parcel Searches, 48 Tracks, along with various other tasks.

Zoe is credited with the seizure of $21,755, 8.80 Kilos of Cocaine, 60 Grams of Fentanyl, 35 Pounds of Marijuana, and 3.88 Kilos of Methamphetamine.

She also performed at K-9 demonstrations at community events such as National Night Out, Drugs 101 Program, the Harrisburg Police In-House Training Program, Boy Scouts of America, Public Elementary Schools, and helped bring a positive image to the City of Harrisburg Bureau of Police K-9 Unit.

“It’s hard to put into words what Zoe has meant to people over the years,” said Cpl. Bender. “To see how people have responded, it’s amazing.”

Zoe continues to undergo aggressive therapy, which includes chemotherapy. Her medical care has been generously picked up the nonprofit Paws of Honor, which provides specialized care to military and police K9s, at no cost to the handler or agency. You can make a donation by visiting this link: