A donation to the Buffalo Police Department's K-9 Unit will take some of the bite out of work-related injuries for the four-legged half of the force's five patrol teams.
Three canine first-aid kits were presented to the department Thursday by members of Buddy's Second Chance Rescue, a group whose main mission is to come to the aid of homeless and neglected dogs.
Accepting the kits at Police Headquarters were Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda, Lt. Sal Losi, head of the unit and Officer Jim Duffy and his partner, "Hydro," a 2-year-old mixed breed German Shepherd-Belgian Malinois.
Hydro was all smiles playing with his toy ball, while Derenda and Losi were all business, speaking of the importance of the donation, which raises the number of department kits to five so that each team now has its own.
"One of our main functions is officer safety and we put the dogs in very dangerous situations," said Losi, adding that K-9 teams are often called to scenes to search for people, narcotics or explosives. "The dogs are usually the first to go in ahead of the officers and if they are injured we can use the first aid kit before we get them to a veterinarian."
There have been no major incidents in which police dogs have been harmed in the city, though they have suffered minor injuries over the years.
Losi points out that the mere presence of an able-bodied dog on a 911 call frequently has a calming effect.
"I was chasing a suspect last week who had run into an abandoned building and when he saw the dog, he immediately stopped. So rather than us rolling around, the confrontation de-escalated," Losi said.
The $250 first-aid kits include bandages, splints, medicine to halt bleeding and treat burns, special paw boots in cases where there may be chemicals or other hazards on the ground, and a snakebite kit.
"They are pretty comprehensive," said Julie Covert, vice president of the rescue organization.
A sixth city K-9 team is expected to begin patrol work soon and the organization plans to purchase another kit, according to Covert and Julie Starr, the group's president.
"Each officer should have one on hand," Covert said.
The group had originally offered to buy bulletproof vests for the dogs, but the department already had that equipment.
"Next year, we plan to assist another police department with whatever they need for the officers and their dogs," Covert said.
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