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New fate for Eagle the K-9

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March 25, 2008

Mitchell County--  There's a new lease on life for a dog that captured the attention of people across south Georgia and even throughout the country.

Last week we told you about a death sentence for Eagle, a K-9 officer for the Southwest Georgia Drug Task Force. Mitchell County Commissioners believed the dog was aggressive and should be euthanized instead of adopted by his former handler. In a pretty quick meeting Tuesday night, things were turned around.

It's a bark that was almost quieted permanently.  But little does 9-year-old Eagle know, John Uppole was barking just as loud.

"I felt it was a bad decision that was made," said Uppole.

Uppole was Eagle's handler as an agent with the Southwest Georgia Drug Task Force. Together they did everything from visits to schools to drug raids. When Uppole left the agency, he thought it would be a simple procedure to take Eagle along since no one else could or wanted to handle him.

"Maybe they didn't have enough information in the beginning when they made the decision. Maybe they're not used to dealing with the disposition of a police dog," said Uppole.

With the information they had, Mitchell County commissioners voted unanimously to put Eagle to sleep after concerns about his aggressiveness and liability issues. "In the information we had when we voted to put this dog to sleep, he was described as a vicious dog," said Commissioner Eugene Curles.

But that vote caused an uproar from Uppole and people everywhere. "The main thing we heard was basically they just didn't want to put the dog to sleep," said Commissioner Benjamin Hayward.

Commissioners say they just didn't have many options at the time of the vote and they didn't feel comfortable releasing him as simply a pet. Now a new option is on paper courtesy of another South Georgia city.

"The decision made tonight was to award the dog to the city of Boston, Georgia so he can continue to work as a dog," said Hayward.

Boston's Mayor and City Administrator want Eagle to help them combat the drug problem in their city as their first drug dog on the police force. "I'm glad they did," said Uppole.

Uppole is of course pleased with the decision. He'll now be able to once again at least work with who he calls a fellow officer and friend. "I spent 70 or 80 hours a week with that dog probably and I'm extremely attached to him and it probably would have been just like losing a family member," said Uppole.

There's no longer a fear of losing him and soon the German Shepherd will leave his fenced cage alive and free as an Eagle.  

The Mitchell County Attorney will draw up papers to have all parties sign them. Eagle could be in his new city as early as Wednesday.  

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