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Turbo the police dog makes run for freedom

After completing school Friday, one local graduate apparently wanted one more walk on the wild side before settling down to work. But his run for juvenile freedom was short-lived.

Turbo, a German shepherd assigned to the St. Petersburg Police Department's K-9 unit, stole away from the Police K-9 Compound near Lake Maggiore in south St. Petersburg sometime between Friday night and 5:30 p.m. Saturday, police said. He was captured at 7:30 p.m.

Turbo, a 2-year-old male that weighs about 85 pounds and cost $2,500, was among five dogs that graduated Friday from the department's K-9 Academy, said Lt. Ron Hartz, a patrol commander.

Tom Kovalcik, communications supervisor, said Turbo normally lives with his handler and partner, Officer Randy Lyons. But Lyons spent Friday night at the Holiday Inn Clearwater Beach Surfside, so Turbo was kept at the compound.

Lyons said Turbo, kept in a kennel, used his mouth to pull the locked gate inward, which gave him room to squeeze out. The dog then jumped a 6-foot fence.

Officers assigned to the K-9 unit searched for Turbo Saturday and officers on regular patrol were told to keep their eyes open for the dog, Hartz said. Lyons caught up with Turbo at the Econo Lodge, 3000 34th St. S.

"His partner went away this weekend and I guess he got a little jealous," Hartz said about Turbo.

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