Following the North Branford Police Commission’s vote to terminate Officer Mauro Piroli – who was the North Branford Police Department’s canine officer– there were many questions about what would become of the canine program and Chase, the NBPD’s police dog.
Those questions were answered at the Dec. 10 Police Commission meeting. Chief Matthew Canelli confirmed that the breeder, Norbert Safco in Poughkeepsie (New York), has been boarding Chase for weeks at no charge.
“Since he’s a police dog, he couldn’t just be funneled into the regular scheme of other dogs so Norbert said he’d be glad to take him back for a few days, which turned into a few weeks,” said Canelli.
Canelli has been in contact with Safco, who said that a number of other police departments have expressed interest in purchasing Chase. Safco said that no matter the price collected for Chase, the NBPD would get the pick of the litter that is now four weeks old at no charge.
“We’re very lucky that we have this opportunity,” said Dave Palumbo, vice chairman of the Police Commission.
The Police Commission unanimously voted to allow Canelli and Lieutenant David D’Ancicco to work with Safco to sell Chase and choose a new puppy. Canelli said there are several officers being considered to take on the role of the canine’s handler.
Another reason the NBPD is looking to start fresh is the amount of training a dog and its handler have to complete before they can go on duty. While Chase was trained, there are currently no certified, experienced handlers on the road for the NBPD so if Chase returned, he would have to go through training again with a new trainer.
“[If we kept Chase], by the time he and his new handler went through the Police Academy, he’d be going on his fifth year,” said D’Ancicco. “Dogs have a working life of 7 ½ to 8 ½ years because of the wear and tear of police work and the rigor of training so we want to start with as young of a dog as possible.”
The NBPD has already put its name on the list for the Connecticut State Police’s training – a program which will return in the fall after being removed due to budget cuts. Canelli also noted the fall would be perfect timing as the pup is now four or five weeks old.
“We will not train dog anywhere but with the Connecticut State Police so we can keep a better handle on the training to make sure this fellow shows up when he’s supposed to,” said Canelli.
While official training wouldn’t start until the fall, the NBPD’s new canine could be here as early as February when he would begin bonding and simple obedience training with its handler.
“We really want the canine program to be successful,” said Canelli, noting one goal is to do more demonstrations as there were only three documented demonstrations with Chase.