ISP trooper faces new battle, years after K9 partner killed
Having the ultimate partner against crime can be heart breaking.
SELLERSBURG, Ind. (WDRB) -- Indiana State Police trooper Nate Abbott has street smarts.
"I like to watch traffic, I like to see how people respond to me," Abbott said.
He talked to us while he spied on Interstate 65, his eyes following cars, looking for red flags and speeders. His eyes can spot an expired tag in just seconds.
"I consider working the interstate like fishing in the ocean, you never know what you're gonna get," Abbott said.
In his career, he has seized nearly a million dollars in cash and assets, hundreds of pounds of drugs, and dozens of guns from the streets. His secret weapon? A K-9 partner.
He shoved his white SUV into drive, hammered the gas, and went after a car he flagged. All the excitement gets his K9 accomplice amped up. The dog gets so excited, he barks anxiously from his cage in the back.
"Enough!" Abbott yelled at his eager partner, who is crucial for his job.
He and K9 Teague have gotten a lot of illegal drugs, cash, and guns off the streets.
"I think we've got two pounds of heroin, 4 to 5 pounds meth, 30 pounds marijuana," Abbott rattled off.
Teague can do more than sniff out drugs.
"They can find missing children, they can find the criminal that ran from the crime scene," Abbott said.
They also track criminals. Weeks after our ride along on I-65, we followed the duo around during training. Abbott sent Teague to find a "suspect" in an abandoned building used for training. Teague tracked down the scent of the K-9 coach, who was waiting for him in a bite suit. The dog attacked, jumping up and latching onto the bite suit, making primitive howling noises while doing it.
"Good boy, Teague, that's a good boy!" Abbott praised the dog for successfully completing the mission.
It is not an easy mission for Abbott. It takes him back to June of 2013. Kilo, his first K9 partner of almost seven years, was killed in the line of duty in June 2013. Joshua Priddy pleaded guilty to shooting Kilo and injuring a sheriff's deputy during a standoff in Sellersburg, Indiana. Kilo was hailed as a hero who saved many lives that day.
"Obviously Kilo's always going to have a special place in my heart, and the guy's in my department. He did so much for my department, got me to where I am today," Abbott said.
Abbott does not think the bond he had with Kilo will ever be topped.
"There's no dog like your first dog," Abbott said.
It took more than a year and a lot of courage to find a new companion. After months of work, a dog named Hank whom Abbott had been paired with, was failing K9 school.
"That day that you all came up and did the story on Hank, that day when he was on the bite suit, is when we saw the flaw," Abbott said.
The dog would not make it as a police K9. Abbott felt defeated again and back to square one.
But he was determined to not give up. Finally, he found his man in Teague. They have been together for two years now, and the experienced 6 year old police dog has been a great partner.
But Abbott was not prepared for another heartbreaking blow.
"The doctor came running out in the parking lot, and he was like we've got big problems, his blood looks like koolaid," Abbott said.
During surgery in August to fix a spinal problem, doctors discovered Teague has an autoimmune disease that makes him extremely tired. Nate had blamed Teague's exhaustion on the summer heat. After 30 trips to Purdue's veterinarian school, countless blood transfusions and tests, Abbott knows better.
"Basically, what he needs is to find a bone marrow transplant," Abbott said. "We need to find one of his siblings which is impossible to do."
More checkups and trips to Purdue lie ahead, and it is not clear when Teague's time could be up. "I could go to Purdue next month and his body could quit responding to the two drugs that he's on and then we're basically out of options," Abbott explained.
Teague's doing okay right now, and is not giving up his fight. He is still strong enough to do police work for now. Abbott, says he will not give up on his canine partners in crime.
"A lot of these troopers, they have their passion, whether it's SWAT or traffic enforcement, whatever your passion is, working with dogs is mine."
It remains his passion, even after all he has been through.
Copyright 2017 by WDRB News. All rights reserved.