UNA Pressroom

University Of North Alabama K9 Officer Toby Ends Watch

Feb. 26, 2021

Michelle Eubanks, UNA, at media@una.edu, 256.765.4392 or 256.606.2033

Michelle Eubanks, UNA, at meubanks@una.edu, 256-606-2033 or 256-765-4392 Feb. 26, 2021

FLORENCE, AL - Toby, the K9 Officer at the University of North Alabama, has passed after a brief illness. He would have been 12 on Feb. 27. Toby worked alongside his handler UNA Officer Greg Kirby and was a fixture on campus and was much beloved at UNA as well as Kilby Laboratory School.

"Toby grew up on the UNA campus serving as our K9 Officer, and our students, faculty, and staff just loved him," said UNA President Dr. Ken Kitts. "Today, we lost a member of the UNA family, and our thoughts are with Officer Kirby as well as the entire University Police Department as we mourn the loss of this special friend."

Toby was two when he came to UNA in 2011 from Auburn University as part of a Department of Justice grant. Before his tenure at UNA, Toby spent a year in prison being cared for by prisoners. Not long after, he began his detection training. As a single purpose dog, Toby's one and only job was to find explosives. He was brought to the Shoals as the nearest K9 explosives dog was an hour away at the time.

After just a few weeks into his training, Toby and Kirby hit their stride as partners, developing a strong bond right away.

"After about two weeks, he became a son," Officer Kirby said in 2014. "I can't go anywhere without him following me around. He goes home with me; we're together 24/7; he's always around."

The pair were well-known on campus, and students would flock to Toby, often taking selfies with him and getting in a little much needed pet therapy. Still, as an officer, Toby knew that when his collar and leash were on, it was time to go to work. And his absence will leave a gap not just in the UNA Police Department but across campus, too.

"Sometimes, it is hard to put into words exactly what to say," said Les Jackson, Interim Chief of the UNA PD. "Toby was a member of our department, our UNA family, and the community. He was loved by so many. Toby served with the department for nine years, and there is no telling how many lives Toby has touched over the years, from the children at Kilby to the students,

faculty, and staff here at UNA. Please keep K9 Officer Greg Kirby and his family in your thoughts and prayers. He has lost not only a partner but a friend and a family member. Toby will be greatly missed."

About The University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama is an accredited, comprehensive regional state university offering undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs through the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Human Sciences, and the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions. Occupying a 130-acre campus in a residential section of Florence, Alabama, UNA is located within a four-city area that also includes Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia. UNA Athletics, a renowned collegiate athletics program with seven (7) Division II National Championships, is now a proud member of the NCAA Division I's ASUN Big South Conference. The University of North Alabama is an equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate in the admission policy on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, age, or national origin. For more: www.una.edu and www.una.edu/unaworks/