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Carmel Police pay tribute to its first fallen K-9, Leo

CARMEL, Ind (WISH) – Carmel Police officers said goodbye to the first K-9 to die while actively serving the department Tuesday.

Packed inside a gazebo, neighbors, city leaders, and officers celebrated the life of Leo. Outside, a trumpet player filled Carmel’s air with the sounds of a fallen hero.

The remains of the English Labrador, Bull Terrier mix, laid on a table, next to a basket lined with teeth-bitten tennis balls. The dog was put down earlier this month, after a mass was discovered.

Officer Brian Schmidt was then forced to make a tough decision, after spending four years by Leo’s side.

“I wanted to be that team, and I wanted that bond as quickly as possible, and luckily with Leo, it was pretty quick,” Officer Schmidt said.

Leo wasn’t trained to bite, and tackle, but sniff and rescue. “Wherever I went people all said hello to Leo, not to me, and I was OK with that,” Officer Schmidt said.

Leo was one of four Carmel K-9s., it’s an increasingly busy department.

Last year, the animals answered 6,713 calls, made 151 arrests, and helped with 1,649 traffic stops.

But to federal drug agents, Leo stood apart.

“I can tell you some specific occasions where Leo helped us identify, actually they were necklaces that were coming in straight from the country of Colombia and the beads to the necklaces were actually made of compressed heroine and Leo helped us identify that,” Special Agent Dan Schmidt said.

While he could spot drugs, he wasn’t great at everything.

“And then he started to swim,” Officer Schmidt said. “He looked like he was drowning. I kid you not, this dog could not swim in a pretty fashion, whatsoever.”

What he lacked in coordination, Officer Schmidt says by the end, Leo made up in other ways.

“He was making our community a better place, and in my eyes, Leo was no longer single purpose dog, he was a multi-purpose canine, and I was proud to be at his side,” Officer Schmidt said. Said.

With Leo’s death, and the retirement of another K-9, the department is currently looking to get two dogs. No timetable has been set, however, the a department spokesperson said they will be able to do get the new animals with money from the current budget.

So for right now, Officer Schmidt will go back to making regular patrols.