New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper


Police Officers and Their Dogs Show Support for Russo

Animal Control Officer Jim Russo is still a few weeks from going back to work full-time following a bite from a pit bull a few weeks ago that resulted in a loss of part of his thumb. But, fellow police officers showed support for Russo this week by letting the public have the chance to see dogs they adopted from the pound thanks to 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.”


  1. Note above- Cheif Gagliardi tells people 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.

    He conveniently leaves out how many impounds Hartford had which MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE. Hartford impounded over 500 dogs! That means after you subtract redeemed and DOA dogs and calculate how many dogs are adopted out… get approx 25% euthanized. That means Hartford had around 75% adoption at a time that NB euthanized 55% of dogs. Yes, the complaints investigated were comparable but thats not relevent with euthanasia’s. Hartford is MUCH more successful at adoptions, according to CT State Dept of Ag but the above numbers are deceiving the public when other numbers are left out. Bottom line, the amount of dogs impounded in Harfford, are over double what NB gets…thus the euthanasia numbers may be higher. But all in all, they have a much higher adoption rate than NB in comparision to what they take in.

    In 2009, it was the work of volunteers that lowered the rate signifigantly. That rate is now going back up again. For this year, 18+ dogs have already died and their are still 3 months left. Volunteers have been told not to screen applicants, not to do reference checks, not to spay/neuter and more. These are the exact reasons that dogs were adopted and adoptions were successful.

    The fact of the matter is that vounteers documented neglect at the NB dog pound. Theyve attempted on numerous occasions to address the concerns with the ACO, Chief and Mayor. When little change occured, the issue was brought public. Ever since, the New Britain police are retaliating against volunteers at the cost of the dogs. In the public, however, they give press releases like the one above, to look good. Soon, they will issue a release that they are having dog training for officers. Unfortunately, this is not a certified training on animal behavior which is what the officers need because many of the dogs in the pound are scared but are great dogs when they are actually interacted with. Hopefully, NBPD will actually stop retaliating against volunteers who are trying to do the right thing, and they will take initiative to go the correct avenues to be more successful in adoptions. They will also stop hiding the dogs in their kennels and get them medical attention when needed. Parvo virus is now in CT and there are no protocols to prevent another outbreak in the pound. Lets hope that this deadly painful virus doesnt make its way back to NB pound and claim the life of innocent dogs. In order to ensure that, some protocol must be established which has still not been the case.

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