Officers' best friend: Police gather in Yarmouth to say a final goodbye to Sultan

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YARMOUTH — Police and emergency responders from around the area came out Feb. 13 to pay their respects to a valued comrade.

Former Yarmouth police dog Sultan, 13, was being put down after many years of service.

A couple dozen officers, firefighters and EMTs from Yarmouth and surrounding towns, as well as from the Maine State Police, came to honor the German shepherd at Yarmouth Veterinary Center.

“It’s always awful to have to put them down. It’s the worst part,” South Portland Officer Shane Stephenson said. “Luckily he had an awesome career, and an awesome retirement.”

Sultan became Stephenson’s pet after the dog retired from active police duty, although they also worked together. Sultan’s original handler and owner, former Yarmouth police Officer Michael Vogel, is now working in Florida; his son attended Friday’s ceremony.

The public safety personnel gathered at the Exit 15 park and ride on Interstate 295 at 8:45 a.m. to line up and say farewell to Sultan, who lay in the back of a police cruiser. Then they drove in a procession to the veterinary office, where they formed two somber lines to the door as Stephenson carried Sultan inside.

“The dogs are unbelievable partners and you’ll see all these guys tearing up because they’re upset thinking of the day that they might have to see that day come with their dog,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson said Sultan had a very impressive career and that he’s glad he was able to know him both as a partner and as a pet.

“Sultan had over 1,000 calls for service and (Vogel) did an unbelievable job,” Stephenson said. “I remember Sultan from a South Portland call. He had tracked down some burglary suspects and recovered a bunch of property, so he stood out in my mind as being an awesome dog and I was very fortunate that Mike let me take him into my home.”

Stephenson said having so many officials come out to say goodbye to Sultan made the sad day easier to handle, and that it was the kind of honor Sultan deserved.

“It’s hard, very hard, to put your dog down and when you have all this support, it makes it so much easier,” Stephenson said. “It’s all for Sultan. He was an unbelievable dog. … Sultan was a very good dog.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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Officer Shane Stephenson of the South Portland Police Department, flanked by other officers and emergency responders, carries former Yarmouth police dog Sultan into the Yarmouth Veterinary Center to be put down on Friday, Feb. 13.

Local and state police officers, firefighters and EMTs say farewell to Yarmouth police dog Sultan on Friday, Feb. 13.

Vehicles from several public safety departments form a procession at the Interstate 295 Exit 15 park-and-ride lot for the trip to the Yarmouth Veterinary Center on Friday, Feb. 13.

Sultan, with former Yarmouth police Officer Michael Vogel, when Sultan retired in 2012.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.