A harsh economic climate has negatively affected cities and municipal services across the country. But the downturn hit home for a five-year-old German Shepherd named Daro earlier this month.
Daro, a police dog for the East Haven Police Department in Connecticut, was forcibly retired after the town council cut his budget. As the only police dog in the EHPD, Daro’s early retirement has angered the town’s police union and some citizens, according to the New Haven Register.
“My concern is why it’s not being funded anymore,” Sgt. John Miller, police union president told the Register. “It’s a valuable tool. It’s been a proven success … It’s a valuable tool for police work these days.”
Miller said that by his calculations, it costs the town just $3,500 a year to keep Daro in service, and that his dismissal is only the latest in a series of cuts to important police programs in the past three and a half years.
Paul Hongo Jr., deputy director of town affairs, said, however, that the costs are higher than $3,500. Two years ago, the town spent $7,000 on dental work for the dog, and the town also spent an estimated $2,200 in payroll costs for early dismissal and overtime costs to care for the Daro.
Deputy Chief John Mannion told the Register that the department’s K9 unit was eliminated because, “the chief just decided, upon reviewing the budget, that there wasn’t enough money to sustain the program.”
But East Haven’s Town Hall is fighting back against these allegations. In an email to the public, Mayor April Capone fought off reports that she disliked dogs and denied any monetary connection to Daro’s dismissal.
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“First I would like to say that I have always been not only a supporter of the K9 program but a true ‘dog person’ myself. I remember meeting Daro when he was a puppy in some of his first days on the force and feeling lucky to have him,” she said in the email. “Unfortunately, the situation has changed in ways that have less to do with our budget and more to do with factors beyond my control.”
Instead of a budgetary link to the K9 cuts, Capone claimed that the decision was partially influenced by Daro’s handler, Officer Dave Cari, insisting on a midnight shift when a dog unit is not at its most effective. Whatever the cause of the dismissal, East Haven residents have taken to Facebook and the New Haven Register’s website to voice their dissatisfaction with the decision.
Daro would probably have served three more years on the force if not for his dismissal, Cari told the Register.
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