Pet of the Month: Chico, K-9 Officer

By Colleen Holt

The Little Rock Police Department has officers of all shapes and sizes, including one that walks on four legs and could literally take a bite out of crime.

Photos by Mike Kemp

K-9 Officer Chico is a Belgian Malinois dog who partners with Officer Sean Connolly on the streets and after they clock out. You see, Chico also lives with the Connolly family.

Chico is nationally certified as a dual-purpose dog in narcotics recognition and subject apprehension/tracking. K-9s can be a deterrent in the field, as subjects are less likely to flee once a K-9 is on their trail. “Once we initiate the dog into the situation, the situation changes,” says Connolly.

The team has been involved in 50-plus arrests, including assisting the U.S. Marshals Service, local narcotics units, and the state’s community corrections department with finding parolees who have not reported to their parole officer. Many of the team’s arrests have included those convicted of violent felonious acts.

Chico has gone through three rounds of police training at Von Klein Stein Working Dogs in Sherwood: one by himself, one with his first handler, and one with Connolly. All of Chico’s commands are in Dutch.

Born in Florida and raised in Connecticut, Connolly is a third-generation police officer, following in the footsteps of his grandfather and great-grandfather. He moved to Arkansas six years ago and has been with the Little Rock Police Department for five-and-a-half years.

Looking back, Connolly said that once he had committed to spending his life on a police force, he knew that working with dogs was a priority. To help fulfill that dream, he spent about two years donating his free time to work with the K-9 team during their training sessions. After working a street beat for three years, it was time for him to take a specialty position on the force. At about that same time, Chico’s first handler vacated the position. Connolly applied for the opening and was selected in April 2022 to be Chico’s next partner. 

Because K-9 Chico lives with the Connolly family, he and Sean are with each other 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “He goes with me everywhere. We have more of like a pet bond, but he also happens to be a tool for the police department. He helps to protect the public and other officers. Still, he’s my pet and I love him very much.”

In addition to Chico, the family has two other dogs. Connolly’s wife, Sarah Henderson, is a doctor at the Veterans Health Administration in home-based primary care. His children, Sophia, 4, and Sean Jr., 1 ½, love Chico and have learned a few necessary commands in Dutch, which are especially helpful when they want Chico to drop the Kong toy or ball he always seems to have in his mouth in preparation for a game of catch.

Connolly said Chico is a “super-social dog. I purposely bring him to lineups so he can get to know the other officers and let the other officers pet him. At home we try to keep him as relaxed as possible. He likes to hike, hit a lot of creeks, get some good exercise and play fetch.”

Once it’s time for a K-9 officer to retire, the handler has the option of keeping the dog. With this comes the responsibility of vet bills, food and other necessities. Connolly said he is grateful to the Little Rock Canine Association, which helps raise funds that go directly to the families of retired police dogs. More information on this group can be found at

Another type of support for K-9 officers and police departments comes from the Little Rock Police Foundation. This group buys toys and leashes for the currently active dogs and raises funds to purchase a new dog when one retires.

In the end, K-9 Chico and other dogs like him are “just dogs with a job. They just want to please people and get praise.”