BENNINGTON — The police department has been forced to euthanize its K-9, Cory, after another display of aggressive behavior. Officer Erick Ericksen, the Bennington Police Department's K-9 handler, said the department euthanized the animal last Monday after it bit him. The incident came after Town Manager Stuart A. Hurd had appeared before the Select Board two weeks ago to inform the board that Cory had attacked two people, and the police department was looking to replace Cory with a different animal.
On the first occasion, Hurd said the animal reportedly lunged at a department patrol officer. The second instance involved a intern who was bitten by the animal after the man disobeyed an order to stay away from the dog.
Hurd said a conclusion had been reached that the animal must be relieved of its duty and sold to another organization for use in a less public arena.
Since the Select Board Meeting, the police department had been looking for a new place to send Cory, and had found a search and rescue team, but Cory again showed an aggressive side.
"We had a place all set up for him to go, but he had some more behavioral problems. He had actually gotten somewhat aggressive with me, his handler, and we determined he wouldn't be able to go to another place. ... It was too much of a situation to put him into," said Ericksen. "It's behavior that he has never shown towards me. I got bit in the hand, not real bad or anything, it was just out of the ordinary."
Police Chief Richard Gauthier said the department was left with no choice after the final incident.
"It was the same sudden inexplicable show of aggression that we had before. When I talked to the trainer at the academy and a few other people that know dogs, we knew that we had to do it," said Gauthier.
Ericksen said Cory's behavioral problems began after being diagnosed with Lyme disease at the end of summer.
"Since we've had the dog, until about August, we had no problems whatsoever. He had been super friendly, been to schools, was just a big baby," said Erickson. "He had gotten diagnosed with Lyme disease right around August. We did some research and one of the effects was aggressiveness."
Ericksen said Cory was not a vicious dog, just sick.
"This wasn't the dog, it wasn't the breed. We pretty much determined it was a sickness," said Ericksen.
Gauthier vouched for Cory as well.
"This was a great dog with a neurological problem," he said.
Parting with Cory, who was more than a pet, has been trying, said Ericksen, who has lived with Cory for the past year and a half.
"It was probably one of the hardest things that I've ever had to go through. The one thing about K-9s ... is that they are not only a pet, per se, they are a partner. I had spent more time with him than anyone. ... He would have taken a bullet for me or done anything to protect other officers and the community," said Ericksen.
The department has reviewed about six dogs to replace Cory, said Ericksen, who will go through a six week narcotic training program with the new K-9, and spend up to four months training for patrols.
Ericksen said he is excited to meet his new live-in partner, but it will take time to get over Cory.
"I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be hard, just dealing with the loss, for now," he said.