UPDATE: Yarmouth Police K-9 Nero

I was searching through news feeds for articles about Yarmouth Police Department’s K9 Nero and the late Sgt. Sean Gannon.

It was almost exactly one year ago this week that the Yarmouth Police Department sent out the following press release welcoming a new K9 to their department:

The Yarmouth Police Department has welcomed Nero, a 16-month-old, fully-trained and certified Patrol Dog – to the Yarmouth Police Department K9 Unit.

Nero is a male Belgian Malinois that has recently completed 640 hours of specialized training in the past 16 weeks, and is partnered with Yarmouth Police Department K9 Patrol Officer Sean Gannon.

Nero is the son of a retired and specially trained United States Armed Forces dog and was donated to the Yarmouth Police Department at no cost by Kenneth Ballinger, the President and CEO of Alpha Canis Advanced K9 Training and Care of South Weymouth.

Nero was certified by the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department K9 Academy with special support and training by members of the Massachusetts Department of Correction and the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office.

Nero is certified in: Tracking, Building and Area Searches, Criminal Apprehension, Evidence Recovery, Crowd Control and Handler Protection.

I had to double check the date. The article was published on April 17, 2017.

At 16 months old, most dogs are still full of puppy and play. Nero, on the other hand, was an example of a K9 who was ready to work at a very early age. Of course, that determination and focus only comes with an equally determined and dedicated partner. Over the past year, many people on the Cape had the pleasure of seeing demonstrations by Sgt. Gannon and Nero at community events ranging from National Night Out to Paw Palooza, to the most recent Cape Cod Saint Patrick’s Parade. Nero presents as sharp, focused and determined K9.

Sgt. Sean Gannon and K9 Nero at Paw-Palooza July 15, 2017 – CapeCod.com Photo

K9 Nero is currently under the care of Retired K9 Officer Peter McClellend, who has worked with Nero since he was a puppy. Peter helped to train him and worked closely with Sgt. Gannon during that time.

There is something unique about police K9s that make them indispensable as members of police departments across the country. We are fortunate here on the Cape to have several outstanding officers partnered with extraordinary K9s.

Photo by: Tengu Photography

These are members of police forces who will not only run toward danger, but will change the environment simply by their presence. The most hardened criminals will often yield when matched up against a K9. A K9 has no fear. They do not hesitate and they know their job.

Peter McCLellend recalled apprehending a criminal whom he described as “a really, really bad guy.” He was a convicted armed robber who had a violent past and would likely not give up without a fight. Officer McClellend was called to the scene with his K9 Shadow. Eventually the criminal was apprehended. Once the “bad guy” was in the back of Peter’s cruiser, the suspect admitted that he had no problem facing a police officer with a gun, but that he would never want to face a K9 again. “You have a good dog there,” he said.

Officer Peter McClelland with K9 Kobi in front of the White House

Ret. Police K9 Officer Peter McClellend was called to the crime scene on April 12 to locate Nero. The exact timeline of events is now in the hands of the courts. I can tell you this: In the chaos, Nero was shot and had to wait for several hours to be safely removed from the scene of the shooting. Despite his severe injuries, Nero was able to climb into an emergency vehicle under his own power. Once at the first emergency veterinarian office, Nero again walked into the lobby on his own. Nero lay patiently through X-rays without narcotics before a plan for surgery could be determined. It was as if Nero was aware of what had happened, and knew these strangers were going to help him.

It was determined that Nero would be transferred to Cape Cod Veterinary Specialists in Buzzards Bay. Peter McClellend refused to leave Nero’s side. He sat by Nero’s side during surgeries and even slept on the kennel floor with Nero during his recovery.

Nero had been shot in the face near his jaw. The bullet traveled through his neck and lodged into a muscle in his shoulder on the opposite side. The risks to remove the bullet were more dangerous than leaving it in place. Even after operations to repair the damage caused by the gunshot, Nero will carry the bullet in his shoulder for the rest of his life.

Ret K9 Officer McClelland with puppy Nero Photo by: Kiki Marcos

Although one day has blended into the next since the shooting, Peter spoke with the highest praise about the staff and facilities of the Cape Cod Veterinary Specialists. He recalls a technician who sat side by side with him during one of Nero’s surgeries. She carefully explained every movement and every procedure to Peter.

This was not Peter’s first experience with a K9 who had been shot. Many years ago, his K9 Mako was accidently shot by a hunter in the neck with a 12-gauge shotgun. After a miraculous recovery, Mako was back on duty with the police department. It is this experience that gives Peter some confidence in the recovery for Nero. It will be a long path ahead, but not impossible. Exactly what Nero’s future will be is still unclear.

In the coming days and weeks, we will not hear much about Nero. After the funeral of Sgt. Sean Gannon, those entrusted with the care of his K9 partner are asking for time to rest and heal. It’s been a terrible time for the entire Cape, but it has been especially difficult for family and friends of Sgt. Sean Gannon.

Support from the community has been overwhelming. If you would like to show your support, please donate items to your local animal shelter in Nero’s name, or monetary donations are being accepted through the Yarmouth Police Foundation: http://yarmouthpolicefoundation.org/donate/

About Cat Wilson

Cat Wilson is "That Girl" on Cape Country 104 – a Cape Cod native and longtime Cape radio personality. She is a passionate supporter of Military and Veteran causes on the Cape and also hosts local music spotlight program, “The Cheap Seats” on Ocean 104.7.