FAIRFIELD — The police dog that bit a police officer’s infant daughter is out of quarantine but still is being held at the Humane Society Waterville Area, and probably will be returned to the out-of-state company from which it was purchased.
Fairfield police Chief Tom Gould said he met with the Town Council on Wednesday night, and the issue was discussed in executive session at that meeting. He said officials decided the town’s new canine unit program would be put on hold, which means the dog probably will have to be returned to the vendor he came from: Rhode Island-based International Canine Exchange.
The dog, a 22-month-old male Belgian Malinois named Rex, bit Officer Jordan Brooks’ infant daughter around 10 p.m. Feb. 24. The incident occurred in Winslow, where Brooks lives.
Brooks, the dog’s handler, was home at the time of the incident and took his daughter to the hospital. She was then transferred to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, which has a neonatal facility. The infant suffered puncture wounds and bruised ribs, police said.
Gould said Thursday that the baby was back home and had recovered from her injuries.
The town bought the dog in January for $7,500. In addition, about $1,000 had been spent to alter a police car so it could accommodate the dog, and Gould said the car will remain that way.
The dog, originally from Croatia, and was off duty at the time of the incident. Winslow police, who responded to the report of the bite, said the dog was immature and had not gone through proper training yet.
The dog was scheduled to attend the Maine Criminal Justice Academy K9 Patrol School for several weeks with Brooks on March 14. Gould said the outcome was disappointing, but his department will move forward from it.
“I think the general consensus was we need to move forward with program, but we need to re-evaluate it and make sure it’s the right step for us,” he said.
Gould said it was likely Rex would be returned because it wouldn’t be possible to get the dog into the training program in time now. He said the dog was “exactly what we asked for” from the company, and it deserved to go through training.
It can take up to a year to get a dog placed in the training program, Gould said, adding that this did not mean the department would abandon the canine program permanently, especially since Rex would have been used to help find drugs.
“We still think the program is a solid tool for fighting the drug epidemic we have in our area,” Gould said.
He said the department will re-evaluate the program and probably will return to the Town Council in the future to discuss it.
Lisa Smith, director of the Humane Society Waterville Area, said Thursday that the dog had gone for a veterinary examination, which is routine after a biting incident. She said the dog is now out of quarantine and still is being held at the shelter, where, she said, it is behaving well. Initial reports were that Fairfield had a 10-day window to decide how to proceed with the dog.
As of Thursday afternoon, she said, the shelter hadn’t heard from the town what the plan for Rex was, but the shelter staff is happy to continue holding it longer “in unusual circumstances when needed.”
“So we’re just standing by and housing Rex, who continues to be well behaved and easy to work with,” Smith said.
Colin Ellis — 861-9253