K-9 Dany’s Story: Supporting Our Retired Heroes on Cape Cod

Imagine sitting in a doctor’s office with your partner: He is laying on a table unable to speak to you. He can’t tell you why he was so lethargic this morning or why he fell down in the driveway and couldn’t get back to his feet. This is your best friend and a decorated hero who has saved lives and brought down countless violent criminals, and you don’t know what’s wrong with him. The doctor doesn’t know either, and she wants to run some tests. She tells you that the diagnostics alone could cost over a thousand dollars and surgery could cost triple that. What do you do?

Is there health insurance? Unfortunately, this loyal partner who keeps raising his head to watch you pace back and forth is a highly trained K-9.  This dog has been at your side from the time he was 9 months old and here he is at 9 years old.

K-9 Dany

K-9 Dany

Just last week he was in your livingroom letting your daughter dress him in a tutu and bunny ears… A year ago he was taking down an armed felon. Today, something just isn’t right and it could cost several months’ pay to help him. You aren’t going to say no. You’ll figure out the money later. Maybe refinance your house if you have to. This K-9 never gave up on you and you won’t give up on him!

Sadly, this is not an unusual story among K-9 officers on the Cape. In fact, it’s a very common story here (and across the country). Please don’t get me wrong. The Barnstable County Sheriff’s Department and the town police departments from across the Cape do everything they can to support their K-9 officers. Unfortunately, sometimes the need goes beyond what is feasible for the departments.

Did you know that when a K-9 retires from service, there is no financial support for them? There is no such thing as a retirement plan or a pension for a K-9.

So what do you do? If you work for one of the departments on Cape Cod or the Islands, you call Joe Ambrosini. Joe was one of the best K-9 officers on the Cape for many years and there is no doubt that Joe loves dogs more than people.

Joe Ambrosini founded the Cape & Islands Police K-9 Relief Fund specifically to help officers cover veterinary bills associated with aging K-9s. No one else was stepping up, so he did. By comparison to other non-profit groups on the Cape, the K-9 Relief Fund is not a very big fund. Normally there is just enough to cover one major or a couple minor surgeries in a given year. There is no other fund like it anywhere in the country, which seems wrong. These are special dogs. These are heroes who save lives and find criminals and help lost children. They work hard and because of this, they can age faster than a family Labrador.

Deputy Martin with K-9 Dany

Deputy Martin with K-9 Dany

I spent an afternoon with Barnstable County Sheriff’s Deputy Patrick Martin and his wife Melissa Martin (who works for the Falmouth Police Department). Deputy Martin has had a few K-9 partners over the years, but clearly, his best friend was Dany. Dany was a German Shepherd from the Czech Republic. He had broad shoulders and a large bear-like head.  Deputy Martin told me several stories about Dany including one about a call they got for back up after an officer was assaulted by an assailant who had fled the scene. In Deputy Martin’s words “this was a bad guy… a very very bad guy. We didn’t know how bad he was until after it was over.”

Deputy Martin and Dany tracked the ‘bad guy’ through the dark where the situation escalated and Dany was sent in. Dany took the guy by the leg and held on. This was enough for Deputy Martin and another officer to eventually take down the ‘bad guy’- and it took all three of them to do it. During the struggle, Dany took several direct blows to the head, but still never let go. Because of Dany’s tenacity, the focus of the dangerous situation was directed away from the officers, giving them a safer upper hand. Unfortunately, the repeated punches to his head took a toll on Dany. Later, during a training exercise, Patrick noticed Dany wasn’t reacting well to a particular situation. It turned out that Dany had a detached retina and could no longer see properly. At this point, the decision was made to retire the K-9. He would spend the rest of his life as part of the Martin family. Both Patrick and Melissa began to tear up as they told stories about Dany with their children. He lived with them for several more years, until his years on the job caught up with his body.

Patrick & K-9 Dany

Deputy Martin waiting with Retired K-9 Dany

“Anytime you call Joe (Ambrosini) from the vet’s office, especially at the end… Joe just says ‘don’t worry, we got this’”.

Deputy Martin introduced me to Dex, his current K-9 partner. He is a sleek and Belgium Malinois with quite a personality. “There is something about a K-9,” he said looking at Dex’s kennel. “They don’t know fear. They can’t. If there is some guy waving around a samurai sword, they have to be able to rush in to do what they do. They can’t know it’s dangerous.”  It’s because of that “no-fear” attitude that we owe them everything we can give them.

Deputy Patrick Martin with K-9 Dex

Deputy Patrick Martin with K-9 Dex

Deputy Martin has been on scene with Dex for some unimaginable events, including the ambush style attack on police officers in Bourne which left one Coast Guard officer dead, her partner wounded and Bourne Police Officer Jared MacDonald shot in the back. Recently, Dex helped locate a despondent woman who went missing in Cotuit. Dex is also about to be certified as one of the few duel-purpose K-9’s in the area.  And some day, Dex will retire, as these heroes do. With the help of organizations like the Cape and Islands Police K-9 Relief Fund, Deputy Martin, along with the other K-9 officers from across the area, will know there is a safety net when they need it.

The safety net for these officers will only be there with financial support from the public. If you would like to learn more about the Cape and Islands K-9 Relief Fund, please join several hundred supporters at the annual charity motorcycle run on Saturday September 24th. Staging will be at the Patriot Square parking lot in Dennis on Rte 134 from 9am to 11am. The ride will go all the way to Provincetown ending on MacMillan Wharf. Non-riders of all ages are welcome to meet members of the K-9 units from across the Cape. Donations will also be accepted before and after the ride.

k9_relief_fund

You can also visit the website by clicking here:  http://www.capecodpolicek9.org/

About Cat Wilson

Cat Wilson is "That Girl" on Cape Country 104 – a Cape Cod native and longtime Cape radio personality. She is a passionate supporter of Military and Veteran causes on the Cape and also hosts local music spotlight program, “The Cheap Seats” on Ocean 104.7.

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