A beloved K-9 suffering from seizures and arthritis received a final salute and a police escort, with lights flashing, to the Maine vet clinic where he was euthanized. Dozens of officers and firefighters turned out this month to pay their respects to Sultan, a 13-year-old German shepherd who sniffed out drugs and bad guys with the Yarmouth Police Department. Officers gave a last pat or scratch to the dog. Then they provided an escort for Sultan's final trip to a veterinary clinic. South Portland canine officer Shane Stephenson said today that he took Sultan into his home as a pet when the dog retired from police work at age 10. He said the dog was friendly and lovable to the point of letting Stephenson's baby boy tug on his tail and ears. "But when it came down to business, he was one of the best, too," the officer said.
Sultan was the first police dog with the Yarmouth Police Department; he was in great demand across southern Maine during his years with the department. He and former Yarmouth Officer Mike Vogel, who now works in Florida, answered more than 1,000 calls, capturing dozens of suspects and seizing untold amounts of cash and more than 100 pounds of narcotics. Vogel said Sultan was also popular with schoolchildren. "He was a gentle giant," he said. "There's a lot of attachment with these police dogs. They're with us 24-7." Justin Cooley, a K-9 handler with the Maine State Police, said handlers and their K-9s have an indescribable bond. "You go through a lot of things with them, and you just dread this day," Cooley said. (Read more euthanasia stories.)