- Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2015

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - A Vermont state police K-9 injured while tracking an armed robbery suspect is retiring after more than 10 years of service.

Casko - a Belgian Malinois and Czech Shepherd mix - is Vermont’s longest-serving police dog. He joined the force in March 2005 - partnered with Cpl. Michelle LeBlanc and based at the Williston barracks.

The Burlington Free Press reports (https://bfpne.ws/1UeASk1 ) that Casko had been slated to retire Dec. 31, but an injury to a rear leg during a pursuit in late September forced him to retire earlier.

LeBlanc and Casko have reaped numerous awards, including twice being named Vermont Canine Association Tracking Team of the Year and twice honored as K-9 Team of the Year.

In addition to assisting in drug seizures, Casko tracked lost people and suspects and worked crowd control. He also helped search Essex Elementary School in 2006, after a gunman shot to death a teacher in her classroom and wounded another teacher.

LeBlanc paid $3,000 for the untrained 11-month old dog whose father did K-9 work in New York. LeBlanc and Casko attended a 16-week patrol school in 2005 and a narcotics detection school in 2006.

Before he was injured, Casko went on 146 calls assignments in 2015 alone. He had a total of 1,540 deployments in his career.

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