The Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Diggett family of Winter Haven are mourning the loss this week of retired PCSO K-9 “Bolt,” who was purchased by the Diggett family for PCSO in loving memory of their daughter, Allison Sousa. Allison was brutally murdered by Thomas Rigterink in September 2003.
The following is a news release sent out on December 15, 2003, about Bolt being donated by the Diggett family:
The family of Allison Sousa, the victim of a tragic double-homicide that occurred earlier this year, recently honored her memory by paying for the purchase of a new dog for the K-9 Unit of the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
Alice Diggett, Allison's mother, had the idea while wandering around this year's Fall Fest at the PCC campus. Alice said the K-9 display is usually a big hit at this event, and the thought hit them that one way their family could give back to the community who supported them during this tragedy would be to donate a police dog back to the community. She then contacted PCSO and offered to finance the purchase of a dog.
Alice, her husband Michael, and widower Tim Sousa came to the Sheriff's Office on Monday, December 15, 2003, to present Sheriff Lawrence W. Crow, Jr. with a check in the amount of $6,000. Early next year, the K-9 Unit will arrange for the Diggetts and Mr. Sousa to accompany them to pick out the dog, that the family has already named "Bolt." The name for the dog was agreed upon by the family to further honor Allison's memory, as she was a Tampa Bay Lightning fan.
Bolt’s first PCSO handler was Sergeant Howard Martin, who trained him as a canine. He was then partnered with (now retired) Deputy Sheriff Johnny Polston. He then worked with (now Sergeant) Deputy Joe Wilson as a bomb detection dog.
Upon Bolt’s retirement from service to PCSO, at the family’s request, he was allowed to retire into their home and become their family pet.
Some of Bolt’s accomplishments include:
· 31 non-contact apprehensions with handler Johnny Polston from May 2006 – December 2007
· Bolt won the Exceptional Service Award from NAPWDA (North American Police Work Dog Association) in 2007
· Bolt detected a rocket launcher in a suspect’s vehicle in north Lakeland
see news release about the rocket launcher here:
The following is an excerpt from an email sent to PCSO Sergeant Joe Wilson last Saturday, who was Bolt’s handler before he retired:
It breaks my heart to inform you that we put Bolt to rest this morning [Saturday, February 16, 2013]. Last April, Bolt was afflicted with Canine Vestibular Disease. This is a middle ear disease that left him with a balance issue and tilted head. He never really recovered from the disease and adding to that his arthritic spine, getting around was very difficult and painful for him. Recently the medications were not being effective and he had trouble with his hind legs holding him up, often got confused and sometimes did not understand commands.
Mike and I could no longer allow this beautiful, proud creature to suffer. We knew this day would come, but it is very hard for us. From the first day we met him, he was a family member. We were allowed to stay with him and comfort him through the process and made arrangements for him to be cremated and returned to us next week.
If you feel it be appropriate, please let those at PCSO who knew Bolt when he was in service know of his passing. I would also like to thank PCSO for all they did to enable us to memorize Allison with a dog named Bolt. But I want to thank you specifically for all you did for us by making it possible for us to have him for over 3 years.
Again, I am so sorry to have to send you such news.