South Portland police K-9 euthanized after sudden illness

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Police are mourning one of their own.

Sabre, the Police Department’s 7-year-old German shepherd, died Sunday, May 14, with Officer Kevin Webster, his trainer and handler, at his side.

Over the previous days, Sabre had lost the use of his rear legs and could no longer walk. By Sunday, when treatment wasn’t working and surgery wasn’t an option, the decision was made to euthanize the K-9.

Sabre worked with the department since 2011. He lived with Webster and his family since the age of 3 months when he arrived at Portland Jetport International on a flight from Florida.

Webster said Sabre loved to play and his training was play-based.

“He was a dog that loved to work,” he said. “He followed me everywhere. I couldn’t get in the car without him. He loved to be in the car. He was a very loyal dog.”

Webster said Sabre was very good with children, who always wanted to pet him. He was also an excellent family dog who, Webster said with a chuckle, helped keep his two boys in line.

During his career, Sabre helped find a suicidal man in Portland, lost children and Alzheimer’s patients.

Another time, he located a man who fled on his bike after robbing a bank. Sabre also assisted in many other burglaries and searches for both people and drugs.

When needed, Sabre also provided assistance to other Maine police departments, including a search as recently as May 12 in Portland.

Sabre was well known in the South Portland community, and he and Webster regularly conducted demonstrations at local events.

Webster, a 28-year veteran of the Police Department, has been a K-9 trainer since 1999 and trains dogs from around the state.

He said each dog goes through 16 hours of training per month – eight hours of patrol work and eight hours of drug training – and are certified once a year. The department has two other dogs on the force.

Lt. Frank Clark called Sabre “a vibrant member of the force. Both he and (Webster) were a long-serving team. … Kevin has had three dogs and he has done an excellent job of all three. Sabre will certainly be missed.”

“Our thanks go out to K-9 Sabre for his service; you will be missed,” Clark said on the department’s Facebook page. “Our heartfelt condolences also go out to Ofc. Webster for the loss of his close partner and friend.”

Hundreds of people, including officers from other police departments, have left condolence messages on the South Portland department’s Facebook page.

One was from the veterinary technician who “assisted with K9 Sabre’s journey over the rainbow bridge today.”

Besides conveying condolences, the technician said, “I had a very hard time not tearing up with this one, and I do euthanasias every day. Sabre was definitely a special boy and an important part of keeping the city, I personally live in, safe. I hope you all find comfort in the memories you had with such an amazing dog.”

Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.

South Portland Police Officer Kevin Webster with Sabre, who was euthanized May 14 after a sudden illness.

South Portland Police Department K-9 Sabre.

Sabre at 3 months with his handler and trainer, South Portland Police Officer Kevin Webster, at their first meeting at Portland international Jetport.