Photo Gallery l K-9 Officer Nero of the Pittsfield Police Department
PITTSFIELD - Nero was tops in sniffing out drugs, finding missing persons on cold winters, and public relations. The canine officer with the Pittsfield Police Department was at his best building trust between youngsters and the two-legged officers.
"He was really good during demonstrations at elementary schools," said the dog's handler, Officer James Parise. "He made kids realize police are more approachable and how to act around dogs."
On Monday, city police announced that Nero died earlier this month, leaving behind a law enforcement legacy as the second longest serving police dog since Pittsfield started the canine unit in 1991.
Parise said his first-ever canine partner was still on active duty a week before he succumbed to a long illness on Feb. 14. During a nearly eight-year career, Nero responded to 419 calls in Pittsfield, Berkshire County and Western Massachusetts. The German shepherd is credited with apprehending numerous felons and with the seizure of more than 40 pounds of illegal drugs.
"K-9 Nero was a valued and productive member of the Pittsfield Police Department and will be missed greatly," said Police Chief Michael Wynn in a prepared statement.
Nero 's heroic accomplishments include locating two people in danger.
In 2009, he found a woman who wandered from a homeless shelter in freezing temperatures. Nero located the woman trying to keep warm in a pile of leaves. For this, Nero received the department's Life Saving Commendation.
In 2012, the canine officer tracked an elderly man who had wandered from home in freezing temperatures. The dog traced the man two miles to a barn where the man was trying to keep warm.
Nero's death leaves Pittsfield with two canine officers, Raimo and Cero, but Parise looks forward to bringing another highly trained dog into the fold.
"I love K-9 work," said the 18-year veteran of the department. "There is nothing I would rather be doing as a police officer."
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233