Cambridge police dog K9 Carl put down with honors

MD-Cambridge police retire K9 Carl_1

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
K9 Carl is led into Choptank Animal Hospital by Pfc. Mothersell. Victim of a degenerative spinal disease, K9 Carl was euthanized on Monday, April 4.

CAMBRIDGE — Cambridge police dog K9 Carl retired from the force this week, victim of a spine disease that affected his locomotion and quality of life, according to Chief Dan Dvorak of the Cambridge police. As K9 Carl’s condition worsened, the decision was made that the only humane option was to have the dog euthanized. Arrangements were made to have Choptank Animal Hospital on Dorchester Avenue in Cambridge perform the service on April 4 at 5 p.m.

K9 Carl was a dog, but he was a police officer first, and his retirement and passing was honored by police officers and K9 units from around the region. At 4 p.m. on the 4th, police units from out of the region gathered at Sailwinds Governors Hall for a procession to the animal hospital. 10 K9 units from Annapolis, Caroline, Talbot, Kent, Wicomico and many other counties led the procession from Sailwinds Park.

K9 Carl has been assigned to Pfc. Chad Mothersell since 2012 and has been with the Cambridge Police Department since 2011. During Pfc. Mothersell and K9 Carl’s tenure together as a team they had worked together on 311 K9 cases, and were accredited with 68 K9 arrests and the seizure of $65,377 in drug money.

Pfc. Mothersell accompanied K9 Carl to Choptank Animal Hospital, dealing with the task with a great deal of sadness. He and Carl were constant companions, and K9 Carl was treated as a family member.

“Yeah, it’s been a rough few weeks,” said Pfc. Mothersell. “Dealing with this, dealing with the family. Pretty emotional. I’ll play it by ear … if we can get him replaced that would be great. It may take some time.”

Pfc. Mothersell was impressed with the turnout for K9 Carl’s retirement.

“We had a good many officers show up today,” he said, “and I’m pretty happy about that. Carl, he’s done a lot for us. We’ve gotten a couple good seizures on the street. I’ve done a lot of work with him, here and across the bridge. It’s just his time, unfortunately. His condition — it’s just genetics. Not much you can do. We’ve been making things happy for him, though, these past two weeks that he’s been off the road.

“It’s more in the nerves than the joints. It’s a condition that would be very, very costly to deal with, and we don’t know what the turnabout would be after that. You have to have a 100 percent police dog. They are there to endure more than we can endure at times.”

We talked to Dr. Patrick Allen, DVM, at the animal hospital, who was born and raised in Cambridge and knew well the amount of heart Cambridge Police had invested in Carl. Dr. Allen explained that Carl was presumed to be suffering from degenerative myelopathy, a progressive disease of the spinal cord. The disease starts by causing a loss of coordination in the hind legs, and progresses over the course of six months to a year, ultimately resulting in paralysis. Ironically, the disease is painless, and affected dogs have no clue that anything is wrong, other than an inability to get around normally.

The K9 units in attendance lined up outside Choptank Animal Hospital on Dorchester Avenue, and awaited the procession. Pfc. Mothersell was first in line, carrying K9 Carl on his last ride. Police units from across the state advanced slowly south on Dorchester Avenue, pulling in diagonally as they arrived.

There were 30 to 40 police cars, all with lights blazing, to the bewilderment of passers-by, many who stopped to watch the proceedings. All the officers in attendance left their units and lined up as soldiers in rank, standing nearly 60 strong in front of the hospital. The Cambridge police color guard called attention.

Broadcasting over the P.A. systems on the patrol cars, Cambridge police dispatch called, “Cambridge all units, stand by for broadcast …

“Cambridge to K9 officer Carl …

“Cambridge to all units, K9 officer Carl, MSP badge #3186, has answered his last call and is 1042 for the last time. K9 Carl, thank you for your service to the citizens of Cambridge, Dorchester County, and Maryland. You are finally home. Rest in peace.”

Pfc. Mothersell walked K9 Carl into the hospital, while the gathered police saluted as he passed. It was a heartbreaking moment. K9 Carl, a proud member of the Cambridge Police Department, will be missed.

MD-Cambridge police retire K9 Carl_2

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Approximately 50 police officers from around the region gathered to honor K9 Carl on his last call.

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