The Police Department is mourning the loss of a valued member of its team. Leo, the department’s K9 unit dog, was diagnosed with an incurable tumor last month and had to be euthanized, according to Police Chief Rick Smith. The 7-year-old Belgian shepherd had been Wakefield’s police dog since the department acquired him in 2007, when it created the K9 unit. “It was really devastating to the department. He was a very good dog,” Smith said, adding that Leo and his handler, Police Officer Brett Rossicone, “were a great K9 team. They worked very well with our officers as well as officers in surrounding communities.” Leo’s primary mission was narcotics detection, and he did that job well, Smith said. But the dog was also trained to perform searches, and Smith said on one memorable occasion in 2008, Leo and Rossicone were able to locate a boy who had gotten lost in a wooded area on a cold night. “There was no question that finding him saved the kid’s life. He would have never survived the night,” Smith said. As a tribute to Leo’s service, his cremated remains were returned under police escort to the Wakefield home of Rossicone and his family, with whom the dog had lived. . Smith said he would like to replace the dog and plans to explore funding options to do so. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.
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