Sheriff Craig Webre announced the loss of K-9 Possum over the weekend during the search for a suspect in the southern part of the parish. Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the 18000 block of Highway 3235 shortly after midnight Saturday after a call came out that a suspect was fighting with a State Trooper. K-9 was called out after the suspect got away from the trooper and was last seen running into a grove of orange trees.
Shortly before 1:30 AM, Deputy Paul Finn and Possum began to track the suspect. They tooka break then shortly after 2:30 AM, Possum suffered a major seizure, which caused his bodytemperature to spike in the hot weather. Although deputies were able to cool him immediatelywith water and ice from a nearby home and perform CPR, K-9 Possum died while en routeto the vet. The cause of the seizure is unknown, although veterinarians consulted in the caseindicated the possibility of a brain tumor or other neurological or vascular abnormality issuspected given the details of the event.
“Possum’s passing was certainly unexpected,” said Sheriff Craig Webre. “He was anextremely talented K-9 who enjoyed the work. Possum will be sorely missed among our teamof highly trained K-9 officers,” Webre added.
Born January 1, 2004, K-9 Possum was bred by LPSO’s own Captain Dean Savoie (at thattime a Sergeant in the K-9 Division). The Belgian Malinois was first trained and handled byDeborah Lillie, a reserve K-9 deputy with Assumption Parish Sheriff’s Office and the wife of Deputy Paul Finn.
K-9 Possum began his career as a working dog at a K-9 D.A.R.E. demo at Zephyr Fieldwhen he was just 4 months old. Before joining LPSO and handler Paul Finn, Possum’sworking career focused on detection work for cadaver and narcotics. In addition to servingin numerous school and jail searches, Possum searched for bodies in the Lower 9th Ward afterKatrina. He aided in several water recoveries, from a drowning victim located in 35 feet ofwater in the False River area of Vidalia Parish in 2006, to a young man who drowned nearLafourche Crossing in 2007. He also aided in the recovery of the bodies of two little boys in anapartment fire in Reserve, LA in 2008.
Early in 2010, when Paul Finn joined LPSO, the unit was short one K-9 dog. DeputyLillie turned her beloved Possum over to her husband, and he and Possum passed theircertifications in Patrol and Narcotics shortly after.
In their short time on the road together, Paul and Possum quickly gained the trust and respectof the other officers as a reliable, highly skilled team. They tracked a burglary suspect fromthe crime scene to the subject’s house, where he later confessed to the burglary. A subjectin Chackbay wanted for battery involving domestic violence fled into a wooded area. WhenDeputy Finn and K-9 Possum arrived, the subject promptly gave himself up, not wanting toencounter the dog.
The team made numerous narcotics finds, the most notable of which led directly to the seizureof approximately 25 pounds of marijuana, 12 grams of methamphetamine, and numerousfirearms. In an earlier case, K-9 Possum performed a sniff of the closed safe and alerted to theodor of narcotics. This gave agents probable cause for a warrant, the safe was opened, andwas discovered to be full of narcotics and money.
Deputy Finn stated that what he found most remarkable about K-9 Possum was how well-rounded his skills were. “Many dogs are strong in one area, but weak in others. Possumexcelled in every aspect of his job. He was an amazing police dog. He always had my back.He wouldn’t let anyone come up behind me while we were on a search, no matter who theywere,” said Finn.
K-9 Possum would have been seven years old in January and was laid to rest on Finn’s familyproperty. The job will now begin to find another dog to train to take his place.
This story was provided by Sergeant Lesley Hill from the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office