By SAMANTHA PIDDE
After serving Mount Carroll for almost nine years as a K-9 police dog, Scout passed away last week.
Scout had been in declining health and Mount Carroll Police Chief Fred Cass took his long-time friend to the veterinarian's office Wednesday, Feb. 6, to ease his suffering and had him put to sleep. Scout was 13 years old.
"K-9 Scout passed over the rainbow bridge today. He was ready to go and will no doubt be running around with a kong or tennis ball in heaven," Chief Cass posted on Feb. 6, on the Mount Carroll Police Department's Facebook page. "K-9 Scout 2006-2019. Best partner ever."
Cass began working with the German Shepherd in 2008 in Jo Daviess County before the duo came to Carroll County and Mount Carroll in 2010. The police chief admitted he never expected Scout to work so many years and be with him to the age of 13.
"It's a pretty good run for a German Shepherd," Cass said.
In late March 2017, Scout underwent elbow surgery. While the surgery initially relived Scout's pain, Chief Cass identified that period as the beginning of a "steady decline" in the dog's health. He added that while Scout continued to ride with him for the past two years, he was mostly out of commission as a police dog.
However, despite his declining health the past couple of years, Scout still enjoyed riding with Chief Cass in the police car, interacting with the public and his daily visits (every morning and afternoon) with the students at West Carroll Middle School.
Cass said students loved seeing Scout and he loved seeing them, adding, "He was really good with kids.”
Scout even rode along with Cass to the school on his final day last week. While saddened to say goodbye to his friend, Chief Cass said he was relieved Scout would no longer be in any pain.
"It was his time," he said, his voice tinged with emotion from losing his long-time K-9 partner.
Cass said he was grateful for the assistance he received last week from Deputy Justin DeSpain. DeSpain worked as a certified handler with Scout about three years ago while an officer with the City of Mount Carroll.
Cass noted that Scout will be cremated and both Cass and DeSpain will have urns in their homes with some of the dog’s remains.
"He'll have a place in our home forever," Cass said.
Chief Cass offered his thanks to all of those in the community who have supported Scout during his years as a police dog. When Scout required, elbow surgery two years ago, local businessman Len Anderson started a collection of donations from Mount Carroll citizens, raising almost $2,000 to help pay for the surgery.
The police chief’s Facebook post about Scout's death received more than 300 reactions and almost 100 comments (within the first 24 hours) expressing grief, support and love for Scout. Cass said the outpouring of support helped him and his family during this difficult time.
Cass has been asked if he will get another K-9 dog, but he said he is "too old" and does not have enough time to take on the extra work and training of another police dog.
"I'm not ready to have another dog," Cass said.
He encourages those wanting to support a local K-9 dog to support the Carroll County Sheriff's Department, which currently has one.