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‘She died at home in my arms’: Maine police dog gets a final salute

BATH, Maine — Dozens of law enforcement officers from around the state gathered Thursday in Bath as part of a procession to honor longtime police dog Keylo, who died that morning at the home of her owner and former partner.

“She died at home in my arms,” Bath police Cpl. Michelle Small said by phone Thursday afternoon after a memorial service at Bath-Brunswick Veterinary Associates.

Small worked with the black German shepherd for just more than 10 years, until Keylo retired in 2013. Keylo was just shy of 15 years old when she died, after her health had begun to fail.

On Thursday, Small, Bath Police Chief Michael Field and two emergency medical workers covered Keylo with an American flag and carried her through a line of saluting officers to Small’s cruiser, before she headed to the Brunswick clinic.

The procession, including about 30 police cruisers, ambulances and firetrucks from all over the state, passed under a bridge made by the Brunswick and Topsham fire department tower trucks bearing a flag, near the clinic, where a memorial service was held, Small said.

“These canines are considered officers,” Small said. “A lot of these canines have even more training than their human counterparts. … It’s like a brotherhood. Just like police officers, but canine is a family — it’s police within police.”

Keylo was 6 months old when Small took her home for the first time.

Her first call occurred during the first shift on the first day after they graduated from the academy, Small said, when Keylo located a man who had tried to take his own life.

“Nobody could find him, and I just trusted her and our training,” Small said, adding that emergency department staff at Mid Coast Hospital told her later that the man would have died if not for the duo.

Keylo was frequently called to area communities, once helping to locate an 8-year-old girl on Mother’s Day and once finding an 88-year-old woman who had plunged into a river, Small said.

“She found a gentleman who assaulted his wife in Bowdoinham fairly severely,” Small said. “[The man] got into a boat, and we were driven to the boat and she tracked him back to shore — swam back and found him hiding by the railroad tracks in Bowdoinham.”

Bath police Lt. Robert Savary said Keylo was involved in 333 apprehensions and helped in the recovery of evidence, including illegal drugs and contraband, in a number of investigations.

Small now works with Sampson, a 5-year-old dual-purpose sable German shepherd.

“It’s a partner,” Small said. “They become a huge part of your family. I spent more time with [Keylo] than I did with my own family members. I figure 10 hours a day, minimum, every day you went to work. She went everywhere with me.”

“She’s been a great partner to Corporal Small,” Savary wrote in an email. “Keylo’s service to our community will never be forgotten.”

This story appears through a partnership with the Bangor Daily News.