Police Officers and Their Dogs Show Support for Russo
On Monday four New Britain Police Department Officers brought their dogs into the department and spoke on behalf of Russo.
“People do not realize all the good Jimmy does,” said Officer Phil Caseria who now owns an adorable one-year-old pit bull mix named Chance. “If it were not for Jimmy none of these dogs would have been saved. Another 5 or 6 officers have adopted dogs through Jimmy. He lets cops know about dogs and pushes for their adoption.”
Recently, the Friends of Animal Control have been attending Common Council Meetings claiming dogs are not being taken care of properly at the dog pound. The police department has been changing a procedure that previously allowed the group to place the animal on Pet finder. The animal group helped save a number of dogs from being euthanized, but the department has recently taken back duties in order to protect volunteers from dangers such as the attack on Russo.
“Through 21 years I’ve seen a lot,” said Russo as the four dogs immediately sought his attention. “These are all friendly adoptable dogs. It’s important that people realize dogs need to be adoptable.”
Russo helped capture these dogs. For example, Honey was found running on Route 9. Another dog was found on Forest St and no one could catch him except Russo.
“They (the officers) feel strongly in their support for our dog warden,” said Police Chief William Gagliardi. “Officers do care what happens to dogs. We have a history or placing dogs and it is very effective.”
Police Commissioner Mike Wanik said there is a difference between volunteering and activism.
“Activism brings negativity and there is a lot of positivity in the department,” Wanik said. “The effort and appreciation is truly there.”
“We stand 100 percent behind Jimmy,” said Officer John Gonzales. “Our dog warden educates the public and knows what is required.”
Officer Stephan Wells said he has been working with Russo for over five years as a second part-time animal control officer.
”I can’t say enough (about Russo),” he said. “Without him, we would not have found our dog.”
Wells owns a black and white three-year-old Australian Shepherd named Lexi who was found wandering on Broad St.
“When I saw her, I begged my girlfriend to keep her,” Wells said. “The rest is history.”
“These dogs are great family members,” said Caseria. “The way he helps capture them is like the dog whisperer. He has a magic way.”
Russo said he and the department plan to continue to work with the animal groups to find a resolution while placing as many dogs as possible.
In 2008-09, 1,579 dog incidents were investigated, 249 dogs were impounded and 87 dogs were euthanized. In comparison, in Hartford 1,540 dogs were investigated with 107 euthanized.
In 2009-10, there were 1,569 complaints, 208 dogs were impounded and 18 were euthanized. In Hartford, 1,881 dog complaints took place with 135 dogs euthanized.
“Jimmy always emphasizes ‘adopt, don’t shop’,” said Caseria. “A lot of cops have gotten involved and these dogs now have happy homes.”