Chief Dog Will Not Go to Fired Officer

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COLUMBIA - Chief Ken Burton said Thursday that his department would not sell the canine patrol dog used by the officer fired last week over allegations of abuse of a suspect. An anonymous person set up a Facebook profile to support former Columbia police officer Rob Sanders and to raise money to allow Sanders to buy the dog from the city. The page claimed the group could buy the dog, named "Fano," for $10,000.

An anonymous donor allegedly came forward to the city on Tuesday with the full amount. On Wednesday, the tipster said the city took the offer off the table.

But Burton had a different story.  Burton said he never agreed to let Sanders buy Fano, but only said he would consider it. 

Burton told KOMU8 that is when he made the final decision prohibiting Sanders' buying the dog because of liability issues. Burton said with the dog's intensive training, he considers it a weapon.

"Lets just say the dog bit someone on his property. They would look to the city for the liability, so that's the main reason. It's strictly a liability issue. That dog is a tool that we use very similar to a firearm," Burton said.

Amy Sanders, Rob Sanders' wife, said it is ridiculous to consider Fano a weapon and Burton is simply being "mean and vindictive."

Burton said he looked into other canine handlers in the department taking Fano, but said no one wanted take on the extra work. Burton said Fano is now being held at the Columbia Pet Center until Tuesday, when he'll be transferred to a new trainer in Cape Girardeau.