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K-9 finds missing Middlebury woman

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Posted on February 15, 2018 |
By John Flowers



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MIDDLEBURY POLICE OFFICER Bill Austin sits with the Middlebury police K-9 Neila when the Belgian Malinois was only 12 weeks old last June. Neila has earned praise for her work with the local police. Independent file photo/Trent Campbell.

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Police Department’s newest — and only — four-legged recruit is proving her worth, Chief Tom Hanley said.

Middlebury police Officer Bill Austin and his K-9, Neila, were put into action last Saturday, Feb. 10, when authorities received a “missing person” involving a Green Mountain Place resident suffering from a memory loss disease. Police said the woman had left her home to walk at an indoor track at Middlebury College. When she didn’t show up at that location and couldn’t be found, the police called in the K-9, an 11-month-old Belgian Malinois.

Neila picked up the missing woman’s scent from a piece of clothing and followed it to the college’s field house. There, they found the woman safe and sound.

Chief Hanley said Neila has, in her three short months on the force, proven to be an incredible asset.

“Among other things, the K-9 was used to help deter an assault against the officer when engaging a violent psychiatric patient negating the need for physical force,” Hanley said. “Demonstrating versatility, she successfully tracked a missing Alzheimer patient. Officer Austin and the K-9 team are far exceeding the expectations we provided the voters in Middlebury when they voted to support this program.”

It was on Town Meeting Day this past March that Middlebury voters agreed to spend $30,620 to re-establish a K-9 program for their local police department. This money helped pay for the purchase of Neila and also help cover some of the significant, first-year expenses of the program. 

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