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Two of Charlotte’s police dogs retired this month. Meet their replacements.

How do K9 dogs help police officers? This CMPD K9 handler explains

CMPD Officer Matt Yoder has worked with K9 dogs for nearly two decades. His most recent dog, Dano, retired in October and moved into Yoder’s house.
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CMPD Officer Matt Yoder has worked with K9 dogs for nearly two decades. His most recent dog, Dano, retired in October and moved into Yoder’s house.

Retirement looks just fine for two German Shepherds who left the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department last week.

They’re moving in with their handlers, officers Joe Hoskins and Matt Yoder.

Hoskins’ 8-year-old son is thrilled; Yoder’s other dog is still adjusting, the officers said Tuesday.

Hoskins also isn’t sure if Fello, 9, knows he’s retired. He was eager to get back into Hoskins’ police car Tuesday to go to his retirement event.

“He was like ‘Sweet, I get to go back to work,’” he said.

Fello worked with Hoskins for six years before retiring. He focused on tracking drugs and suspects, but Hoskins said he had a particular affinity for aerosol cans – hairspray, anything like that. Once he found a can of yellow spray paint.

“Bit into it. Yellow paint all over. He was Yellow Fello for the day,” Hoskins said.

Dano, 8, didn’t get along with his first handler, so Yoder took him on three years ago.

“He was a project dog, and I don’t know what would have happened to him if I hadn’t taken him,” Yoder said.

Yoder said the department doesn’t keep individual statistics on the dogs’ work, but both retirees have caught their share of suspects and evidence over the years.

Now the officers will team up with new dogs – both Belgian Malinois instead of German Shepherds. Jax, 18 months, will work with Hoskins, and 11-month-old Milo will work with Yoder.

All CMPD K9s go through 12 weeks of basic training and refresher lessons every Tuesday.

“They do get kind of slack,” Yoder said, so the officers provide constant reinforcement.

The dogs and their handlers sometimes spend hours tracking suspects through the woods. Yoder said the dogs handle wet, muddy days better than most officers.

“They do all the work that nobody else wants to do, and they don’t ask anything,” said Darrell Brown, another member of CMPD’s K9 team.

“They just want some lovin’ from us, a toy, some food and they’re good. But I think it’s time we start recognizing these dogs for what they do for the community.”

Jane Wester: 704-358-5128, @janewester

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