Frank A. Militello of Buffalo, a decorated animal control officer for the city, died unexpectedly Sunday at his home. He was 48.
Mr. Militello, a lifelong Buffalo resident, graduated from Grover Cleveland High School in 1980 before going to work for the city, first with the Streets Department and then as an animal control officer.
He received the Mayor's Award from then-Buffalo Mayor James D. Griffin in September 1989 after assisting in the rescue of a dozen sleeping residents from a burning building. Mr. Militello was on his way to work when he spotted smoke pouring from the Hotel Huron. He called the fire department and broke in a door with another passer-by to assist the victims.
Mr. Militello's work as a city employee was well-chronicled in the pages of The Buffalo News. As an animal control officer, he frequently targeted homes where animals were living in squalor or filthy conditions and worked fervently to dismantle animal-fighting operations.
"He made it a point to go after the dog-fighting people," said his brother, Charles. "He'd seek them out."
Mr. Militello came under fire from a gunman in September 2002 while on his rounds in his dog control van on Howard Street near East Fillmore Avenue. He wasn't struck but reported that the gunman was crouching behind a viaduct and took aim at his vehicle before opening fire.
Mr. Militello is survived by his wife, the former Gabi Lupu; a son, Frank Jr.; his mother, the former Marlene Madonia; his father, Charles Militello; a brother, Charles; and a sister, Theresa Grisanti.
Services will be private.