New Canaan police say the department’s K-9 dog, Rocky, choked to death Sunday on a training ball. Rocky's first day on the road was in November of 2012, but he's been with the department since mid-summer 2012.
“We are all mourning the loss of an exceptional police dog,” Ogrinc said.
The department’s K-9 Officer Michael McFadden lived with Rocky. McFadden tried to dislodge the ball from the dog’s mouth but couldn’t, according to a press release from Sgt. Carol Ogrinc.
"[Off. McFadden is] feeling sad, like the rest of us. I did speak briefly with him. He's probably in shock, too," Ogrinc said. "He did try to get the ball, tried to get it out. He tried to save the dog. He did everything he could."
Ogrinc said McFadden suffered some injuries trying to save the dog, but couldn't give an update on the exact extent of his wounds.
"He's got some scrapes and a minor injury to his hand from trying to grab the ball," Ogrinc said. "I don't know. I talked to him very briefly. I was asking him more about how he was doing and to let him know it was going to be on the news... just so he wouldn't be shocked to see it on there, just to prepare him."
Ogrinc said the activity they were engaged in when the dog passed "wasn't anything new." She said they trained together all the time and it was an activity not out of the ordinary. New Canaan Animal Control Officer Mary Ann Kleinschmidt said the activity was a reward and was something the dog engaged in regularly.
"We don't feed dogs or give them treats as a reward for when they do something they're being trained to do," Kleinschmidt said. "Usually, we keep their favorite toy, and allow them to play with it as a reward."
Rocky was the replacement for K-9 Zira, who retired around the same time Rocky joined the New Canaan Police Department. Ogrinc said the tragedy would not impact the unit over the long-term.
"I was told we do plan on continuing the K-9 program here," she said. "There's not much else. I was shocked when someone told me. I couldn't believe it. It's a tragic accident."