He could smell heroin at 20 paces. Find suspected felons and confirmed Alzheimer’s sufferers alike, and bring them to justice and safety, respectively. He was Nero, a multiply decorated dog, and now he’s gone, according to a statement from the Asheville Police Department, which is mourning the loss of the veteran pooch from its K-9 unit.
Nero, a Belgian Malinois, had worked with his partner, acting Lt. Joe Johnson, since 1997. He came to the APD at roughly 3 years of age, and took to his job with rare fervor and professionalism.
Johnson said the dog “was probably the best ‘man tracking’ dog in the state,” with a record to back the claim up. Among Nero’s achievements were the tracking of Vince Gilmer of Fletcher, who had a first-degree murder warrant for the strangulation and mutilation of his father, Dalton Gilmer, and the pursuit of a kidnap/armed robbery suspect from the Broadway Citgo in Asheville to the suspect’s residence at Woodcroft Apartments.
But illness was on Nero’s trail and he just couldn’t shake it. The dog succumbed this week.
“I am very proud of him, and his accomplishments,” Johnson said in a statement. “Nero and I didn’t always see eye to eye, but he has been the best working dog I have had. I will miss him.” Johnson was out of the office on Monday and couldn’t be reached for comment.
— Kent Priestley, staff writer