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K9 retires from state police
CANINE UNIT — State Trooper Adam Fillebrown with his dogs, Caro, left, and Aros, right.
AREA — After eight years, Caro, a nine-and-a-half-year-old male German Shepherd, is retiring from the Maine State Police.
According to the handler, Trooper Adam Fillebrown, Caro has been the number one K9 in the area, but is retiring from police patrol because of old age. He will continue to do drug detection until his replacement, 20-month-old Aros, takes over next fall.
"The drug work isn't so strenuous on him," Fillebrown explained. "It's more just using the nose than the body and his body is just getting old."
Caro was born in the Czech Republic. He was trained to track suspects, find victims, sniff out drugs and apprehend suspects, said Fillebrown.
"So if somebody flees on us and we are tracking them through the woods and they continue to run ... he is taught to bite them and hold onto them so we can apprehend them," he said.
But most of Caro's work, especially in such a rural area, is tracking and officer protection. "If I need him, he can deploy from the car and assist me when I am fighting with somebody," Fillebrown said.
Fillebrown remembers one instance in particular in which Caro was a hero.
In February of 2011, Fillebrown and Caro responded to a car accident in Paris where the driver of a stolen vehicle crashed the vehicle into a snowbank while under the influence of alcohol.
Joseph Allen Denbow, then 19, of Paris was arrested after Caro tracked him down at 10 Maple Street, where the theft had originally taken place. From there, Denbow was taken into custody for many violations including theft by unauthorized use of property and leaving the scene of the car accident, said Fillebrown.
"When we finally saw him, I deployed the dog ... and he apprehended him out-of-sight," said Fillebrown. "We got to him, and arrested him, and he [Denbow] ended up getting a 10-year sentence for all that."
Fillebrown said that Caro had already been bred for police work when he got him. Aros, who came from Holland, is also bred for law enforcement.
"Over there they breed them to be police dogs. Shortly after they're born, they start training them," said Fillebrown, who is currently in the final stages of training Aros.
Fillebrown said that he and Caro responded to more than 1,200 calls during the eight years they worked together.
Fondly called "the barking dog" by other troopers and officers, Caro makes his presence known. Aros, by contrast, is usually quiet, said Fillebrown. "It's nice."
And, because Caro is local, other agencies in Oxford County have also found him to be useful.
"It's easy for us to call on him, and he's been receptive to coming out to our needs," said Norway Police Detective Gary Hill.
Hill said that for seven years, during his employment with the Sheriff's office, he learned police dogs are "a valuable tool."
"It's definitely worthwhile," said Hill. "He is the only one in the area, so we rely on him quite frequently."
Just last Thursday, on what turned out to be his last call, Caro was particularly helpful in tracking an individual who had warrants for domestic issues, said Hill. "He was spotted up by The Lake Store; he had taken off on foot. We called and he [Fillebrown] came out with his dog, and we were able to successfully track and capture him [the suspect]."
Paris Police Chief David Verrier said that he finds Caro to be "very good at what he does."
"He's well-trained. Adam put a lot of time into working with that dog. He [Caro] listened to all of his commands, and, as far as a resource, whenever we needed him for drug cases we found him to be very successful."
According to Verrier, for police departments to have their own police dogs can be expensive. "It's not something the Town of Paris could commit to," he said, "so, having that resource in the area ... and willing to come out when we do need him, has been very, very helpful."
"He's with me 24/7," said Fillebrown. "I have him out running through the woods, jumping over sticks, going through swamps. It's more than an average dog just out chasing a ball."
"If it was up to him, he wouldn't retire," said Fillebrown. "He loves it."