New Canaan Police K-9 Dog, Rocky, Chokes to Death

The dog choked to death on a training ball. Police were unable to save Rocky though they tried, officials say.


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."

canaan guy April 09, 2013 at 10:20 AM
Gov. Malloy should ban all high capacity rubber balls.
Renee Terenzio April 09, 2013 at 11:28 AM
I would like to suggest our dog park to require all owners who bring balls and other objects into the dog park to also be responsible and remove them when they leave. My dog has picked up many broken remanants and dirty balls.
Dave April 09, 2013 at 12:08 PM
For those who are posting negative or just plan Insulting Comments Probably never had dogs themselves and should look up what Police dogs Military dogs And/or service dogs and what part they play in our friends, family And community as well as Military Services, quotes Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of United States forces in Afghanistan, said last year that the military needed more dogs. “The capability they bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine,” he said. Maj. William Roberts, commander of the Defense Department’s Military Working Dog Center at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, said the dog on the raid could have checked the compound for explosives and even sniffed door handles to see if they were booby-trapped. End quotes
lpgraphix April 09, 2013 at 01:25 PM
This may be a silly question, but I'll ask it anyway. Is there such a thing as CPR for animals?
lpgraphix April 09, 2013 at 01:27 PM
To Joe and Ryan -- Your remarks are cold, insensitive and down-right distasteful.
Roy A. Abramowitz April 09, 2013 at 01:27 PM
I could not agree more with Dave. I know for fact that Rocky "RIP" aided in finding one lost toddler, lost senior, prevented aggression against his handler, prevented one stoned person fron driving and hitting you or a family member, that is priceless and God Bless Rocky and Mike for protecting us. It is sad that "heartless: fools like "Canaan Guy" and "Ted" poke fun at a tradegy. Apparently it is sad that these individuals never felt the love between a man\woman and their canine. I am aware of the heroics that Ofc McFadden attempted to save Rocky and the emotional trauma of the event and his losing a family member and fellow Police Officer. It is not my place to describe, but Canaan Guy and Ted I am sure neither of you would have the courage or training to attempt the rescue Ofc McFadden tried. So put bluntly "man-up". Stop hiding behind a "cowardly" psuedonym and if you dop not have something intelligent to say oe express your remorse and condolences "keep quiet". Hopefully there will be a remembrance ceremony and proper "fallen officiers" funeral for Rocky. Our thoughts and prayers are with Rocky and Ofc McFadden.
Dave April 09, 2013 at 02:13 PM
Yes there is CPR for dogs ca your local vet or town hall and talk to Animal control I am in the Animal business and knowing this is just as Important as human CPR for again Service,military or police dogs that animal mite just save your life when you least Expected to
Peggy April 09, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Yes there is animal CPR.
Peggy April 09, 2013 at 02:52 PM
It is very sad when you lose an animal to such a freak accident. I am sure Officer McFadden did everything possible to save this dog. When a ball gets stuck in the throat of a dog and cuts off the air supply, the dog is in a different state of mind and it is no wonder Officer McFadden was injured due to bites and scratches. Yes there is CPR for dogs and you can also use the Heimlich Maneuver. I don't care how big or small a dogs mouth is, any object can become lodged in a dogs throat. Most of the time it can be dislodged. Unfortunately this was not the case. My condolences go out to Officer McFadden on the loss of "Rocky.
canaan guy April 09, 2013 at 03:21 PM
This dog needed a vacuum cleaner to get that ball out quick..... not CPR.
vam April 09, 2013 at 03:59 PM
It's like everything in life, some people don't see the benefits of having a proactive leadership until it affects them personally. Too bad for those people that need bad things to happen in order to do something about it - it's called being reactive and having poor leadership qualities. I applaud the proactive leadership of the New Canaan Police force and I hope the neighborhood towns follow their example. I am saddened about this tragic accident and share the sorrow of losing a pet with Officer McFadden.
Canaanite April 09, 2013 at 04:16 PM
I am tired of seeing people berate those who choose (as is their right) not to post their real names and subject themselves to public ridicule. If you choose to use your real name, that is certainly your right, but not everyone who doesn't is trying to post provocative comments just to cause trouble and it's very dismissive and discriminatory to suggest simply ignoring them. For the record, I have a beloved dog myself (one of many I've had throughout my life) - and yes, it's awful to lose a loved pet - but this was in fact not a pet, but a commodity that was used for law enforcement work. Not to say one wouldn't be affected by the loss, but this dog could have been sent into harm's way every week if it was required - and easily could have been killed if New Canaan was Bridgeport. And yes, the fact is, the dog cost a lot of money. And now a new dog would be the third required in a short period of time . . . Who knows if a fourth would be required next year. At some point one must examine whether or not the cost is worth it. How many drug busts or bomb scares does New Canaan actually have anyway???
Canaanite April 09, 2013 at 04:19 PM
Roy A. Abramowitz April 09, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Canaanite: Thankfully your last comment has been sacked in the middle of the postings, however I did see it on my phone. Your arguments are pathetic! Firstly using the terminology "dimissive and discriminatory" because you choose to hind behind a psuedonym and mock a tragedy is as foolish as your comments. Secondly you claim you that: "You are sick of people berating those that use pseudonyms". My friend did you ever consider that the citizens of New Canaan are sick of people like you using a psuedonym to post rubbish that pokes fun at a tragedy. Third: "You claim that Rocky was not a Pet". That is the most foolish perception. According to your analysis soldiers are not son's daughters, husbands or wifes because these soldiers, who protect our way of life and safety are put in harm's way everyday and could be killed. Since as you say: New Canaan ain't Irag, Pakistan or Afganistan. Your logic is the most ludicris combination of pyschobabble I have heard. Oh! and about the cost, none of your concern, as the acquisition of the "Pet a\k\a Police Officer Rocky" and up-keep are privately funded by citizens who do not hide behind a psuedonym. It is not in the town budget! You might consider informing yourself of the true facts befoer mocking this tradegy and spending your time thinking of Psuedonyms. I for one hope a replacement for Rocky is immediately recommended, and I pledge a donation of $1,000 for that purpose. Like I said "man-up" and stand behind what you say!
Canaanite April 09, 2013 at 05:56 PM
If you have *ever* read anything I've written on Patch, you already know that I am more likely than most to stand up for what I say. I often post and am not a troublemaker. Wow, are you ever full of vitriolic hot air!!! This is *COMPLETELY* uncalled for, and you owe me an apology. Firstly, I did NOT post any "rubbish" nor did I "mock tragedy" in the least . . . I said that it's understandable that one would feel sad for the dog, but that it was not, in fact, a "pet" and it easily could have been sent into dangerous situations to its death. Also, I suggested that one must remember that a new dog would be the third dog in a short period of time. (And yes, I've already read multiple times that it's privately funded, but so what? You get to decide that those people's money is so plentiful that they can throw it away on dog after dog?) Furthermore, I was not *arguing*, I was listing my opinion, just as everyone else did, and which I am entitled to do. I don't need the likes of you barking at me for it. THIS is the very reason why people like me choose to post anonymously, because I don't need some angry nut berating me.
Canaanite April 09, 2013 at 05:57 PM
As for comparing a police dog to a soldier and their parent, sibling or spouse . . . THAT my "FRIEND" is even more ludicrous than you accuse me of being! I do not equate the value of animals' lives as equal to humans', and that is not a novel notion, or else no one would allow the use of these animals in combat situations. Fact is, they are used *because* they are expendable, and soldiers are NOT. So it seems to me that YOUR comparison is "psycho".
Canaanite April 09, 2013 at 06:01 PM
And one last thing . . . my comment was not "sacked" in the middle of the posting by accident . . . I was replying directly and only to a comment above made by Paul Potenza.
Cardiac Companion April 09, 2013 at 06:04 PM
There are a number things that make police dogs superior to humans - let me remind you that although some may think a human is the ultimate, think again. We should be truly at awe of what animals can do that we can't: Dogs have a fantastic sense of smell that is about 50 times better than that of humans. Using their powerful noses, police dogs can track criminals, locate drugs, find weapons and detect bombs. In the same situations, human police would have to use their eyes and search large areas. Plus, dogs can separate smells, which means even if there are a whole bunch of scents mixed together, they can pick out and follow just one. Another advantage police dogs have over their human partners is intimidation. Criminals get scared when a police dog growls at them because they know they can't reason with a dog, and they're more likely to go quietly with law enforcement officers when a police dog is present. Moreover, if there is a need to fight with a criminal, dogs are superior to humans. They're faster and stronger, and their powerful jaws can hold a suspect until help arrives.
Michael Dinan (Editor) April 09, 2013 at 06:16 PM
@Canaanite: "Dogs are expendable"? Can't say I agree with you there, but I'll let others reply. What I can say for sure is that not all of us share your opinion.
Canaanite April 09, 2013 at 06:36 PM
you are misconstruing what I am saying . . . i love dogs as much as anyone, and am not saying they don't have value. this is the same as what i wrote about the sheep that was slaughtered before easter. a sheep does not have the same value as a human being, and neither does the dog, as much as he may be loved. fact is, dogs are used in the police force and in combat situations exactly because they are dogs, and not people. In the army in particular, they send dogs in to do extremely dangerous jobs exactly bc they are dogs and not people . . . it's much more acceptable to lose a dog than to lose a person. Aren't I conveying this coherently? If you don't agree, that's fine, but at least understand what I am trying to convey.
Roy A. Abramowitz April 09, 2013 at 06:46 PM
Canaanite: If I were in your shoes, AND THANK GOD I AM NOT! I would not be calling folks an "angry nut". My I suggest you take an course in interpretive reading, as you do not even understand nor do you have the capacity to interpret what you are writing. My last word is that you did in fact mock the tradegy and diminish Ofc McFadden's grief. I take exception to that and it has no place in this discussion. I would take a Canine over you any day.
humdinger April 09, 2013 at 10:49 PM
Nancy - are you sure that dogs are superior to humans? Do you go to church and pray to DOG or GOD?
humdinger April 09, 2013 at 10:51 PM
Rocky's death is a terrible loss, but don't get carried away and say that dogs are superior to people.
Kendall L Owott April 09, 2013 at 11:01 PM
Police dogs are NOT superior to police officers overall, as long as the police officer has good judgment. The police have a great deal of power granted by the state to exercise their duties lawfully. Police dogs do dog things better than humans but are incapable of the kind of judgment which makes a good police officer worthy of the heavy responsibilities which come with such serious power. An armed criminal can shoot at a police dog without the fear that the dog will shoot back. I leave open the question whether all criminals would fear a police dog more than they would an officer pointing a 14 round, Teflon-coated .40 caliber Glock pointed at them? The fact that police dogs are only useful when they follow commands is more proof that the police officer is superior to a police dog. While a police dog can help an officer, if we follow your logic, we will hire more dogs and retire more police. That makes no sense. Americans have a right to their opinion, whether they use a pseudonym or not, but some of those who have identified themselves by name are getting a little carried away with emotion and saying things which they might change later.
Michael Dinan (Editor) April 09, 2013 at 11:13 PM
From Byron's "Epitaph to a Dog": Near this Spot are deposited the Remains of one who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferosity, and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.
Esprit de Corps April 09, 2013 at 11:24 PM
It is good to respect animals for what they are, to treat them humanely and understand how they fit into the Universe, but remember, as friendly and loyal as dogs are, they drink out of the toilet if you let them. Please, let's keep our perspective. My condolences to the officer who went through this traumatic experience. There are many of us who are sorry this happened to you.
Kendall L Owott April 09, 2013 at 11:51 PM
What in the world has happened to you people? Mr. Dinan, you are supposed to be the adult here. Close the thread. You deserve a timeout.
Michael Dinan (Editor) April 09, 2013 at 11:59 PM
@Kendall, it appears that the piece of this thread that offends you has been flagged by at least three Patch users as "inappropriate," so it has been removed. We rely on you our Patch readers to moderate/police these threads as much as anyone else, so thank you for flagging.
feo mesics April 10, 2013 at 12:23 AM
Robin parker June 17, 2013 at 07:06 AM
"RIP" Rocky and I'm truly sorry for his owner but just out of curiosity and no offense intended, doesn't feo mean ugly in Spanish? I know I sound rude and I apologize but I really would like to know. Thank you and again I apologize for my inappropriate question.


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