Police Officer Fights to Keep Service Dog - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Police Officer Fights to Keep Service Dog

Posted: Updated:
BILLINGS, Mont. -

A police officer in Red Lodge is suing the city and is fighting to keep her K-9 companion.

A civil complaint has been filed by officer Maleri Cates who's been working for the city since May of 2014. She is suing the city of Red Lodge to fight to keep her K-9 officer called Drago.

In May of 2015, Cates was given a Belgian Malinois dog who would soon be called Drago and serve as a K-9 officer for the city of Red Lodge. Because Cates and Drago lived and worked together, they formed a strong bond within two years.

Documents state Drago suffers from a number of health issues and cates had been his caregiver. One of the health issues Drago has is severe separation anxiety. So severe that he has to be sedated whenever they're apart.

In August of this year, cates learned the K-9 program was going to be shut down. Later, Cates learned from city officials it was planned that Drago was going to be sold to the highest bidding law enforcement agency. Cates asked if she could purchase him and they told her she could if she was willing to match the highest bidder's price. They also said she could make the purchase in payments being deducted from her city paychecks over time.

City officials also informed cates that since the K-9 program was going to be terminated, her hourly pay would be cut from 25 dollars per hour to 22. After seeking counsel, Cates tried to negotiate with city officials but did not come to an agreement.

On Tuesday September 19th, Cates was ordered to turn Drago over to Grizzly Peak Animal Hospital by Wednesday morning.

Cates' attorney sent us a statement today saying: "Maleri and Drago have been inseparable for over two years, living and working together every day.  Maleri loves Drago, and as you can see from the attached photo, Drago loves Maleri.  Since the City of Red Lodge decided to end its K-9 program, Maleri's only goal has been to keep the dog who she has bonded with - a dog that has serious health issues that Maleri must address daily, and serious anxiety issues when separated from Maleri.  Maleri offered to pay Red Lodge fair market value for Drago, an offer Red Lodge initially accepted, but later backed out of.  Maleri never intended to sue her employer, and has been unwillingly forced into this position by overzealous City officials and the City's demand, made last night at 5 p.m., that she turn over Drago by 8 a.m. today.  Maleri looks forward to a resolution to this case, and a long and happy life with Drago."

KULR 8's Briana Monte spoke with the city attorney for Red Lodge Rebecca Narmore, who said the dog was returned to Cates this morning and Cates has since filed a restraining order to protect Drago.

"The whole thing has been a difficult situation for the city, for the department, for the officer, and we're just going to try and get it resolved," Narmore said. "Hopefully as amicably as possible."

Maleri cates is still employed by the city of Red Lodge and has Drago under her care for the time being.

  • Most Popular

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Name released of suspect in trespassing at Old Faithful at Yellowstone

    Name released of suspect in trespassing at Old Faithful at Yellowstone

    Tuesday, September 18 2018 4:02 PM EDT2018-09-18 20:02:16 GMT

    A crowd watching Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park was alarmed to see an adult man leave the boardwalk and stand on some of the park's most beloved - and dangerous - thermal features.

    A crowd watching Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park was alarmed to see an adult man leave the boardwalk and stand on some of the park's most beloved - and dangerous - thermal features.

  • Caught on Camera: Man steps into Old Faithful as tourists yell

    Caught on Camera: Man steps into Old Faithful as tourists yell

    Sunday, September 16 2018 1:36 PM EDT2018-09-16 17:36:51 GMT
    Ashley Lemanski captures video of a man standing on Old Faithful Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018Ashley Lemanski captures video of a man standing on Old Faithful Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018
    Ashley Lemanski captures video of a man standing on Old Faithful Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018Ashley Lemanski captures video of a man standing on Old Faithful Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018

    Tourists visiting Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park were beside themselves as they observed what appears to be an adult man dressed in black leave the boardwalk and stand on the geyser. 

    Tourists visiting Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park were beside themselves as they observed what appears to be an adult man dressed in black leave the boardwalk and stand on the geyser. 

  • Meeting to vote on Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh cancelled

    Meeting to vote on Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh cancelled

    Tuesday, September 18 2018 4:56 PM EDT2018-09-18 20:56:08 GMT
    The Senate Judiciary Committee has cancelled a meeting for Thursday, September 20th. A vote to confirm Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh was scheduled for that day. It is unclear if the cancellation is related to allegations of sexual misconduct that recently came to light against the judge. This is a developing story. 
    The Senate Judiciary Committee has cancelled a meeting for Thursday, September 20th. A vote to confirm Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh was scheduled for that day. It is unclear if the cancellation is related to allegations of sexual misconduct that recently came to light against the judge. This is a developing story. 
  • Hunting guide killed and hunter injured in Wyoming bear attack during elk hunt

    Hunting guide killed and hunter injured in Wyoming bear attack during elk hunt

    Sunday, September 16 2018 11:59 AM EDT2018-09-16 15:59:50 GMT
    https://www.gofundme.com/mark-uptainhttps://www.gofundme.com/mark-uptain

    The body of a hunting guide was recovered Saturday following a bear attack Friday 5.8 miles northeast of the Turpin Meadow Trailhead.

    The body of a hunting guide was recovered Saturday following a bear attack Friday 5.8 miles northeast of the Turpin Meadow Trailhead.

  • Bear spotted on MSU campus

    Bear spotted on MSU campus

    Monday, September 17 2018 1:17 PM EDT2018-09-17 17:17:28 GMT

    A bear was spotted on the Montana State University campus, prompting a warning from the university. 

    A bear was spotted on the Montana State University campus, prompting a warning from the university. 

  • Armed robbery suspect at large

    Armed robbery suspect at large

    Monday, September 17 2018 1:52 PM EDT2018-09-17 17:52:14 GMT

    According to Billings Police, a strong armed robbery occurred at a private residence on the 3600 block of Olympic Boulevard around 10:30 on Monday, September 17th. 

    According to Billings Police, a strong armed robbery occurred at a private residence on the 3600 block of Olympic Boulevard around 10:30 on Monday, September 17th. 

  • Yellowstone visitors flee aggressive elk in new video

    Yellowstone visitors flee aggressive elk in new video

    Monday, September 17 2018 12:44 PM EDT2018-09-17 16:44:28 GMT

    It's another elk v. tourists encounter in Yellowstone. Less than a week after an incident where a man was knocked over by a charging bull elk, a new video posted over the weekend shows a different incident involving park visitors fleeing elk. As a reminder, park officials recommend staying at least 25 yards away from grazing animals, and even farther if animals are exhibiting aggressive or uneasy behavior. It's currently rut season for elk, and bulls may be particularly aggress...

    It's another elk v. tourists encounter in Yellowstone. Less than a week after an incident where a man was knocked over by a charging bull elk, a new video posted over the weekend shows a different incident involving park visitors fleeing elk. As a reminder, park officials recommend staying at least 25 yards away from grazing animals, and even farther if animals are exhibiting aggressive or uneasy behavior. It's currently rut season for elk, and bulls may be particularly aggress...

  • House fire investigation underway in Billings, 6 people transported to hospital

    House fire investigation underway in Billings, 6 people transported to hospital

    Tuesday, September 18 2018 8:17 AM EDT2018-09-18 12:17:20 GMT
    Authorities are investigating an early morning house fire that broke out in Billings Tuesday morning. The fire started on the 2100 block of Yellowstone Avenue. Crews responded to the scene just before 2 a.m. Authorities say the fire started in the basement, and that they were able to knock down the flames quickly. The occupants, four adults and two children, were transported to a nearby hospital and treated for smoke inhalation. Several pets in the home were evacuated, and all sur...
    Authorities are investigating an early morning house fire that broke out in Billings Tuesday morning. The fire started on the 2100 block of Yellowstone Avenue. Crews responded to the scene just before 2 a.m. Authorities say the fire started in the basement, and that they were able to knock down the flames quickly. The occupants, four adults and two children, were transported to a nearby hospital and treated for smoke inhalation. Several pets in the home were evacuated, and all sur...