Police dog poisoned in line of duty, put down
WAYNESBORO, Ga. --- You can depend on them to smell out trouble, but the job of man's best friend can sometimes be deadly.
This week, it hit home for members of the Waynesboro Police Department, who are now missing a very important member of their K-9 Unit.
It was a routine arrest, not even a drug bust, but when Po-Po went into a house Wednesday night, he got toxic meth chemicals on his paws that proved to be deadly.
Dee-Moe is in full training mode, but he's got some big paws to fill after Waynesboro's only police dog Po-Po was put to sleep Friday.
"It was one of those things that just didn't feel real," says Officer Bruce Petitt, in charge of the K-9 Unit.
It started with a routine arrest. But once inside the house, Po-Po got some deadly chemicals on his paws and tried to lick it off.
"The next morning, I definitely knew that we had a problem," Officer Petitt remembers. "He didn't recognize me or anybody. He was just...he acted as if his mind was gone."
Veterinarians told Officer Petitt that Po-Po was a danger to himself and their best option was to put him down.
"It's not typical. It's just one of those freak things that shouldn't have happened, but of course it did," he laments.
"The way I have to look at it: his job was security, to protect the other officers there serving those warrants and he did that well. He did his job."
At the Waynesboro Police Department, flags fly at half staff. Officers have a single strip of black tape over their badges, a symbol to honor a fallen member.
"Po-Po, Bruce and I, we all three had a connection of what to do when we made stops," says Officer Mark Cates, who was particularly close to the fallen canine. "We just worked well together."
And even in the streets of Waynesboro, everyone knew his name.
"We had a lot of crime in our area," says Amylia Mobley who lives in Waynesboro. "And when Po-Po came on board, it helped clear out some of the drug activity."
"It was not losing an animal to me, it was losing an officer," she adds.
Officer Petitt trained Po-Po and worked with him during his seven months on the force.
Now, he's working with Dee-Moe and knows, like Po-Po, he's up to the task.
"For those that endeavor to do wrong, look out, 'cause Dee-Moe's ready!"
Officers will hold a memorial service for Po-Po this Wednesday in Waynesboro.
Officer Petitt says police dogs are usually responsible for sniffing out drugs or finding people, but are never intentionally exposed to meth labs. Po-Po was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Only on 12: Police dog poisoned in line of duty, put down