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Sheriff's K-9 corrals wrestler suspected in slaying, then retires

BY JOSÉ PATIÑO GIRONA
Tribune staff

Published:   |   Updated: July 26, 2013 at 10:12 AM

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TAMPA - Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies were trailing a suspect Wednesday night driving north on Interstate 275.

In Pasco County, he took an exit off the highway and crashed into a guardrail. Deputies ordered Brian McGhee to get out of his car, but he wouldn't comply, they said.

So sheriff's Deputy Jason Allen called his partner, Chino, an 84-pound German shepherd and Belgian Malinois mix. The dog leaped into the car's open door and pinned the 280-pound McGhee, a former professional wrestler, by the chest.

Chino's career ended the same way it started: corraling a suspect.

"Last night was probably one of the best," Allen said. "What a way to retire, especially with a homicide suspect. It really can't get any better than that."

Chino, nearly 7 now, retired Thursday after working five years with the sheriff's office. The retirement comes a little early because of leg problems and fatigue on the job.

"He loves work," Allen said. "This is going to be a big change for him."

Chino doesn't handle it well when Allen leaves for duty without him. He usually whines.

A permanent separation at work is a big adjustment for Allen, too. He has spent nearly all his time with Chino, at home and at work.

Chino was 2 and nervous when he teamed up with Allen in the sheriff's office K-9 unit. The partners worked together in a two-month training course, and in his first day on the job, Chino found a burglary suspect.

He's an expert at locating suspects and detecting explosives. Before football games and events at Raymond James Stadium, Allen and Chino would inspect the area to make certain it was safe.

They also were involved in the security for the Republican National Convention in August in Tampa.

"Our bond has grown," said Allen, who has worked with the sheriff's office for 14 years. "It's almost as if he knows what I'm thinking. And I can really read him."

When Chino catches a suspect, Allen treats him to a sausage biscuit from McDonald's. On his retirement night, Chino was to enjoy a sausage biscuit as well as ice cream.

Allen will keep Chino and plans to get another dog to keep him company - a Belgian Malinois that Allen hopes will be as friendly as Chino is with other dogs.

"Instead of him getting hurt on the job, it's time for him to retire," Allen said. "It's a good time for him. I don't want him to not enjoy his retirement."

jpatino@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7659

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