Town police said this week that Baro, their nearly 10-year-old German shepherd, has been retired from law enforcement service due to health concerns.
After examination and consultation with veterinarians at Newtown Veterinary Specialists (NVS), police on June 5 said, “Our K-9 Baro will be retired effective immediately.”
“Baro … has served the Newtown police and our community very well,” Lieutenant George Sinko, the police department’s patrol operations commander, said in a statement.
Police acquired Baro in October 2004, and after being trained, he was sworn into service in April 2005.
Recently, Officer Felicia Figol, who is Baro’s handler, noticed that the dog was not feeling well and in some distress. Baro was brought to NVS and treated for a heart condition that had caused fluid to build up around his heart, Lt Sinko said.
“While waiting for Baro to recover, he again showed signs of distress and needed treatment. It was at this time that the doctors at the veterinary hospital discovered that Baro had heart disease that would require him to retire from performing police work,” the lieutenant said.
Police are in the process of working with their K-9 partners to acquire a new dog and continue with their K-9 program, he said.
“It was anticipated that we would have another [12 to 18 months] of service with Baro prior to this sudden unforeseen condition Baro has experienced,” Lt Sinko said.
Police are researching their options in terms of acquiring the best qualified dog to replace Baro, he said. Research already had been underway concerning the costs and training for a new dog, he said.
“We would need between $12,000 and $20,000 to cover the costs of a new dog and training. During the time that Newtown would be without its own K-9, we would rely on neighboring towns such as Monroe, Brookfield, Bethel, Seymour, and Danbury, as well as the [state police], to assist with any K-9-related calls,” Lt Sinko said.
“In the past, Newtown has assisted … those and other area towns that do not have a K-9,” he noted.
The lieutenant explained that Baro will become the private pet of Ofc Figol and live out his life with her.
After assisting with numerous arrests involving narcotics, as well as locating lost and missing persons, Baro has earned a well-deserved rest, Lt Sinko said.
“Our officers will miss the service and strong comforting presence that Baro brought to our community. As we search for our new K-9, we know that if he is anything like Baro, Newtown will be served well,” he added.
At a June 4 Police Commission session, Police Chief Michael Kehoe said when considering the projected working life of a police dog, town police have been planning to replace Baro with another dog.
“I think we will have no problem replacing Baro,” he said.
Ofc Figol will continue working as the police department’s dog handler when a new animal is acquired, Chief Kehoe said.