City’s best K9 killed

2015-01-12 00:00

“BRUNO would not let go, not even once, he risked his life for me and died a hero.”

These were the words of distraught police dog handler Bianca Cantello who is grieving the loss of her K9 partner who was killed while apprehending a suspect in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Bruno, an award-winning seven-year-old German Shepherd, was stabbed to death by a knife-wielding suspect when he and Cantello rushed to help other policemen who had stopped a suspect vehicle with stolen household goods in Ashburton.

Three men had already been arrested and two had fled into the bushes.

Tears welled in Cantello’s eyes as she recounted Bruno’s last moments.

“The K9 Unit received a call from members of the Alexandra police station informing us that they had stopped a white Toyota Hilux with stolen goods.”

Cantello and her team immediately went to Ashburton.

“We went into the bush and Bruno was on a leash. We got to a hill and the suspect came out of the bush and started running.

“I released Bruno with a command to attack and apprehend the suspect. He caught the man on the leg and he went down. The suspect took out a knife and started stabbing Bruno,” said Cantello.

The devastated policewoman watched as her partner was stabbed continuously.

“He wouldn’t let go of the suspect, not even once.

The suspect got up and tried to attack me with the knife and then I shot him.”

“He carried on running after I had shot him and I ran after him shouting at him to stop.

“A few moments later Bruno collapsed and the suspect collapsed next to him,” she said.

Cantello said she will always remember Bruno as a loving, friendly dog.

“We have been working together for three years and although he was very friendly, he was a hard-working dog.

“He even won a trophy for the best dog in the Pietermaritzburg K9 Unit. He saved my life and died a hero, I am very sad,” said an emotional Cantello.

On Saturday Bruno’s remains were taken to a Durban veterinarian where he was cremated.

Acting Pietermaritzburg cluster commander Brigadier Francis Bantham was appalled by the incident.

“This is the third dog down but if it wasn’t for him, the policewoman would have died.

“The provincial commissioner is saddened by this incident,” she said.

“We have a class coming up to train new dogs.

“We are devastated by this because even though this is their role, handlers get attached to their partners. No dog is the same,” said Bantham.

Last year Hillcrest police K9 Shaka went missing after chasing robbery suspects.

After a massive search effort his body was found in a river.

An autopsy revealed that he had been stabbed several times.

In October last year, a long-serving Pietermaritzburg SAPS K9 search and rescue unit dog was killed while on duty.

Storm, a Rottweiler, was chasing criminals with his handler in the Copesville informal settlement when the dog was electrocuted by illegally connected electrical wires.

• amanda.khoza@witness.co.za

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