State Police drug dogs recovered after someone set them loose from handler’s Marrero home

Photo provided by State Police -- Luke, a 55-pound Belgian Malinois used by State Police as a narcotics dog.
Photo provided by State Police -- Luke, a 55-pound Belgian Malinois used by State Police as a narcotics dog.

Louisiana State Police believe someone purposely freed two narcotics dogs from where they were confined in a trooper’s home Tuesday, but they say the dogs posed no undue threat to the general public.

Trooper Melissa Matey, a police spokeswoman, reported Tuesday night that Bruno and Luke, both Belgian Malinois, were missing from their handler’s home in the Bent Tree subdivision in Marrero. The dogs were later recovered unharmed at animal shelters in Plaquemines Parish and Marrero.

Matey said the dogs’ handler left them around 3:30 a.m. or 4 a.m. to head to an annual training session in Baton Rouge. One of the dogs was left free in the backyard of the home, while the other was confined to a kennel.

Police suspect that a few hours later someone forced open the rear gate to let the dogs free, Matey said. The back gate cannot be opened from the outside, so someone had the force the gate open to allow one dog to get out. That person then went to the kennel and opened the gate to free the other animal.

“The only way for the kennel to be opened is by a human being,” Matey said.

Matey said good Samaritans located both animals shortly after they were freed and brought them to shelters. She said both animals are trained solely for narcotics recovery, not for suspect apprehension, so they posed no more risk than any other large animal roaming the neighborhood. Bruno is 75 pounds, and Luke is 55 pounds. Belgian Malinois are typically bred to be work dogs and are used by several agencies for bomb, drug and suspect detection.

Matey said investigators do not believe the escape was random, but she would not say definitely that the trooper was targeted. She acknowledged that freeing the animals required a certain comfort or familiarity with the animals.

“Could he have been targeted? Yes. But that’s part of the investigation,” Matey said.

Anyone arrested could be booked with criminal trespassing and destruction of property, she said.