Police canine Marty headed to new home

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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In tough economic times, neighbors often help each other out and law enforcement agencies are no exception. The night of Jan. 18, Ado, a dog working for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, was chasing a carjacking suspect when he was hit and killed by a car, said Lincoln Police Chief Brian Vizzusi. At the same time, the Lincoln Police Department was facing budget cuts that would eventually cause the loss of eight positions. Officer Scott Gaucher, one of two canine handlers, was let go, said Sgt. Bryan Fritsch of the Lincoln Police Department. “We were left with a canine but no handler,” Vizzusi said. Without another canine officer, Marty, a 4-year-old Belgian malinois, needed a new home. “We couldn’t return him to the vendor,” Fritsch said, adding that police dogs cannot be given to civilians. Fritsch, who lives in Roseville, has a neighbor who is a Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy. A conversation between them started a series of events that led to Marty’s transfer to the sheriff’s department. Marty had been donated by a private donor to the Lincoln Police Department about one year ago, Vizzusi said. “The donor very much wants the dog donated to the sheriff’s department.” Facing budget cutbacks during these tough economic times, there was no way that Sgt. Donna Goncalves, supervisor of the canine unit at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, would have a dog and be able to maintain the same level of service. While a replacement for Ado had already been found, the dog Goncalves was slated to get was retired, leaving a vacancy for Marty to slip into. “It just really worked out perfectly,” Goncalves said. “He’s a great dog, and he’s very well trained.” Vizzusi, who spent time as a canine unit supervisor for the Rocklin Police Department, said there was no initial guarantee that Marty would be a fit in his new position. “For canine officers, it really is a bond,” Vizzusi said, adding that that bond has to exist to ensure a good partnership. Fortunately, Vizzusi said, the bond was immediate. These types of situations are not common, Fritsch said, due to the large amount of money involved with the purchasing of a canine. “We really feel good about it knowing that we helped out another agency,” Fritsch said. The woman who donated Marty – and wishes to remain anonymous – wanted to help the community, Fritsch said, adding that she is happy Marty can still serve. Marty and Goncalves have been training for a little more than two weeks, Goncalves said, adding that she hopes to be certified with him soon. “It was a win-win situation for us,” Vizzusi said. To finalize the donation of Marty, Vizzusi sought the Lincoln City Council’s approval Tuesday night, and got it in a unanimous vote. “It’s a difficult situation, but it’s a good outcome,” said Councilman Tom Cosgrove.