Friday, March 5, 2010

It's A (Police) Dog's Life

Town of Madison Police Office Tony Pucillo and Brando

There are dog-people and there are cat-people. The divide is sometimes pretty clear; sometimes, the line is blurred. I love cats and I love dogs. I’ve cohabited with both, but if push comes to shove, I’m a dog person.

For me, like it is for a lot of folks, it’s not a “take it or leave it” proposition. My two purebred Collies are members of the family, in every sense. I’m sure it’s that way with Town of Madison police officer Tony Pucillo, who’s been Brando’s handler for a long time. They’ve got that human-canine bond, for sure, but the bond between police dogs and their handlers goes very deep.

They’re side-by-side in life-and-death situations. Doesn’t get more intense than that.

Late last week, Officer Pucillo got a scare – and, it takes a lot to scare a veteran cop. Brando was vomiting on and off, and he just didn’t have his usual energy. Brando is more than just a hard-working Police Dog. He’s a member of Officer Pucillo’s family. So when Brando didn’t perk up after a couple days, Officer Pucillo took him to Exceptional Care For Animals on the West Beltline frontage road, to have him checked.

Dr. Mark Koepple did some poking and prodding, and there was no doubt that Brando had a pretty sore tummy. Dr. Koepple ran some blood tests and did an X-ray. That’s how he discovered that Brando had somehow managed to ingest a few things that he shouldn’t have, including some metal. No wonder he was feelin’ low and dehydrated!

There was a pretty fair chance that some sort of surgery or endoscopy would be necessary to remove the stuff that shouldn’t have been in Brando’s stomach, but – Lady Luck smiled on Brando and he was able to “pass” the stuff without Dr. Koepple putting him on the operating table.

And Dr. Koepple wouldn’t take a cent for his work. Town Police Chief Scott Gregory gave Dr. Koepple a big, public thank-you for taking care of Brando.

Brando and Officer Pucillo were featured in the May 2008 edition of Police K-9 Magazine, which told the story of their March 2007 encounter with a man wanted for burglary and sexual assault. He’d held a 21-year-old UW student hostage in her apartment at knifepoint, and then drugged her. Officer Pucillo and Brando answered the call, and, long story short, Brando took down the thug who came at them with the knife. First Brando pulled him to the ground by grabbing his leg, and then grabbed the arm with the knife in his powerful jaws. The thug then surrendered to Officer Pucillo.

I’ve lived in the Town of Madison since 1999 and am a big supporter of the Town’s K-9 program. My two Collies “protect” my property and “patrol” my fenceline…but, I say this without hesitation: my wife and I, and our dogs Shadow and Sunny, sleep a lot better because Officer Pucillo and Brando are patrolling and protecting.

Thank you, Tony and Brando.

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