Dallas, GA – Pauling County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) K9 Verro died in the line of duty on July 19, after he mistook a deputy for a fleeing suspect.
The tragic incident began at approximately 12:03 p.m., when K9 Verro and his partner, PCSO Corporal Brandon Kilgore, were dispatched to a report of a domestic dispute on Trotters Way, the department said in a press release.
As they were traveling to the scene, the male suspect fled on foot through people’s yards and over fences in an attempt to escape.
Cpl. Kilgore spotted the fleeing suspect, and bailed out of his patrol car to chase after him.
“Handlers are trained on specific rules regarding the deployment of their K-9 partners,” the department noted. “At the time Corporal Kilgore arrived, the departmental criteria to deploy the dog had not been met, so he did not release K-9 Verro.”
The eight-year-old Belgian Malinois was fiercely protective of his partner, and was well aware that Cpl. Kilgore was in pursuit.
“K-9 Verro was the kind of working dog that any handler would dream of,” the PCSO explained. “He had a high drive to fight crime and was relentless in his work ethic.”
“Anyone that knew K-9 Verro knew how attached and protective he was of his handler, Corporal Kilgore,” the department continued. “When Corporal Kilgore left his patrol vehicle chasing someone, K-9 Verro wanted to be with him as the two were inseparable.”
The devoted K9 managed to squeeze himself through a small opening that separated his kennel from the driver’s compartment of the patrol vehicle, then inched his way through the partially open driver’s side window.
As the chaotic scene unfolded, no Deputies were aware K-9 Verro was out of his vehicle,” the PCSO said. “Had Corporal Kilgore known K-9 Verro was loose, he would have advised the other Deputies to stop the foot pursuit and taken command of K-9 Verro.”
Devoid of his handler’s guidance, K9 Verro was unable to differentiate between the suspect and a fellow deputy. Desperate to help, he honed in on a deputy who happened to be running away from his location, and grabbed the back of his leg.
K9 Verro was trained to hold onto a suspect until his handler would give him the order to release, but Cpl. Kilgore had no idea that he had even freed himself from their patrol vehicle.
The deputy he latched on to had been bitten from behind, and was unaware that the dog that bit him was a law enforcement K9.
The deputy then drew his duty weapon, and fatally shot K9 Verro, who died at the scene.
The injured deputy is continuing to heal from his injuries, and the suspect the deputies were pursuing was ultimately apprehended.
“This has been a devastating incident that has shaken our office to its core,” the PCSO said of K9 Verro’s tragic death.
The dual purpose K9 was “an exceptional member” of the department, the agency said.
Cpl. Kilgore and K9 Verro had been partners for over seven years.
Being a former K-9 handler, I know how special the bond is between a handler and his dog,” Paulding County Sheriff Gary Gulledge said in the press release. “The emotional grief everyone is going through, including the Deputy who was bitten, has been overwhelming.”
“Please keep Corporal Kilgore, his family, the K-9 Unit, our injured Deputy, and the Sheriff’s Office in your prayers as we all go through this difficult time,” Sheriff Gulledge said.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office and Cpl. Kilgore in the loss of K9 Verro.