Lenoir police dog retires

Feb. 28, 2014 @ 08:25 AM

Brett Ingram and his German shepherd, Casper, are almost inseparable. Ingram says he spends more time with Casper than he does with his family.

Today Casper, a Lenoir Police Department K-9, will officially be retired. But because of the special bond, Ingram and Casper will remain together. Now considered “surplus,” Casper is being sold to Ingram for $1, and Casper will bide his time sniffing out dog toys instead of drugs.

Handlers get first dibs at ownership once a K-9 dog is surplused. Ingram could not see parting with his longtime partner in crime.

“He’s like one of my children,” Ingram said.

Casper came to the Lenoir Police Department in 2006 from a breeder in Holland who specializes in dogs suited for law enforcement work. His first handler, Brian Smith, worked with Casper for about a year. Training a new K-9 is costly -- it takes about $8,500 to purchase, feed, train and care for a new K-9, according to Capt. Brent Phelps.

Casper spent seven years tracking suspects, sniffing out narcotics and searching woods for missing persons, clearing buildings and schools and conducting demonstrations at schools and churches.

Some searches are memorable. In 2012, four kids got lost around Green Mountain Park. For six hours, Ingram and Casper followed the scent into the woods. Despite several forks in the trails, the pair found the lost children and led them six miles out of the woods.

Last year, Ingram and Casper found more than a pound of marijuana, cocaine, pills, guns and $20,000 in cash during a car search.

With no more police calls and pursuits, keeping Casper occupied will be a challenge for Ingram.

“It will be hard on Casper,” Ingram said. “He pouts if I leave the house without him. I’m going to have to figure out a way to make him feel useful again.”