Bruno was the hero, says K9 officer
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Durban - A policewoman whose dog was killed while chasing a housebreaking suspect in Pietermaritzburg at the weekend said the 6-year-old German shepherd had been her life-saver.
Bruno - who partnered Constable Bianca Cantello of the Pietermaritzburg K9 unit - is the fourth police dog to be killed in KwaZulu-Natal in the past three months.
Last year Cantello was named her unit’s best woman handler, but she said on Sunday that it was Bruno who deserved the credit for tracking and capture of suspects in the arrests they had made together. She said her role had only been to slap on the handcuffs.
“He loved to work. I’m traumatised by his death. You can’t begin to imagine how I feel. The dogs are there to save our lives, and he saved my life more than once,” Cantello said on Sunday.
There has been an outpouring of sympathy on Facebook and Twitter, hailing Bruno as a hero.
Cantello said she had found solace in this, and in the support of K9 trainer Captain Marlin Smith,
Provincial police spokesman Thulani Zwane said that at 7am on Saturday morning, Cantello and Bruno had responded to a housebreaking in Ashburton. Five suspects were seen loading goods into a vehicle. Three were arrested, but two fled into the nearby bush. When Bruno gave chase, he was stabbed by one of the suspects, who then tried to stab Cantello.
“Constable Cantello fired a shot towards the suspect, wounding him. With a gunshot wound, the suspect tried to run away while Bruno was still holding him. Both the dog and the suspect collapsed a few metres away and died as a result of their injuries,” Zwane said.
The arrested suspects are to appear in court on Monday.
Zwane said KZN provincial police commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni had sent her condolences to Cantello. She said detectives would work hard to find whether there was a link between the suspects arrested in Ashburton and other housebreakings in Pietermaritzburg.
In November, The Mercury reported on the killing of 2-year-old Rottweiler Chaka, of the Shongweni K9 unit, who was stabbed four times while chasing suspects in Mariannhill.
Earlier in November, Sky, a 5-year-old Belgian shepherd, was shot while chasing burglars in Pietermaritzburg.
A month earlier, police dog Storm was electrocuted by an illegal electrical connection in Copesville while pursuing suspects.