Town police plan to acquire a new dog by late September to replace the police department’s German shepherd Baro, who was retired from service in early June due to health problems, and who died shortly thereafter.
Police Chief Michael Kehoe said August 6, “We are in the [process] of planning for a replacement,” adding that police hope to acquire a new German shepherd by the end of next month.
Baro, age 10, died on June 25, while under medical care for health problems at Newtown Veterinary Specialists.
The town recently acquired a new Ford SUV-style police patrol vehicle that has custom features intended for the handling and transport of a police dog. The black and white vehicle has signage on its exterior warning that a police canine is kept within.
While in service, Baro had been transported in a Ford sedan police vehicle thatwas adapted for police canine use.
Chief Kehoe said it is yet unclear when the new dog would enter town police service, noting that the training plans for the animal are not yet final.
The police chief termed the acquisition/training of dog a “high priority” matter for the police department.
Private funds have been raised for the acquisition and training of a new police dog, he said.
When the dog is acquired, the animal already would have had some of its police training, he said.
Like Baro, the new animal will be trained in two canine disciplines, he said. They are: searching for missing people/apprehension of suspects, as well as the detection of certain illicit drugs, Chief Kehoe said.
Police Patrol Officer Felicia Figol, who has been Baro’s handler for the past several years, will become the new dog’s handler, Chief Kehoe said.
At the August 6 Police Commission session, Chief Kehoe told commission members that Baro had died unexpectedly, having his health take a turn for the worse shortly after he had been retired from service.
Police Commission members last met on June 4, before Baro’s retirement was announced.
Chief Kehoe told the commission members that the dog that will be acquired probably is now in some early stage of its police training.
“A lot of people have contributed money toward this effort,” Chief Kehoe said of private fundraising that has occurred for the acquisition/training of a new dog.
The police chief did not disclose financial information, saying that he will provide commission members with an accounting of the funds raised.
In a June statement made after Baro died, police said they expect that between $12,000 and $20,000 would be needed to cover the costs of acquiring a new dog and providing its training.
Police acquired Baro in October 2004, and after being trained in law enforcement tasks, he was “sworn in” by then-town clerk Cindy Simon in April 2005.
Before Baro, the police department had not had a dog for more than 20 years.
Baro got his initial training in the Czech Republic, receiving police dog-command training in the German language.