February 22, 2012

C.U. Honors Police Dog For ‘Hearts He Touched’

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A somber mood settled over the Annabel Taylor Chapel where Sabre, Cornell’s first police dog, was honored by the Cornell University Police Department and members of the Cornell and Ithaca community Wednesday in a memorial service. Sabre died last month at the age of 12.

CUPD officers arrived in full uniform to remember the fallen K-9 team member. Sergeant Anthony Tostanoski and Investigator Daniel Gonzalez, members of the Honor Guard, flanked a table on which two candles burned to symbolize a deceased comrade.

“It’s been such a hard time since this happened and I didn’t realize how many hearts Sabre touched,” said Lieutenant Jeffrey Montesano, Sabre’s handler. “I can’t thank you all enough.”

Rev. Janet Shortall, started the service with a prayer and opening remarks.

“It is a bittersweet occasion when a police dog transitions to retirement,” she said.

CUPD Chief Kathy Zoner followed with a welcome address and a poem.

The 12-year-old dog died of a chronic infection, The Sun reported last month. Trained to detect explosives, Sabre served the CUPD for eight years, keeping venues safe for Cornell students and visiting dignitaries such as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, former President Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama.

Sabre’s services were also employed throughout the county, including at the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport and local schools, before he was retired in 2008.

“His skills were renowned in not only our community but also in the entire Southern Tier,” Zoner said, “Sabre was a celebrity on this campus.”

Officer Kevin Noterfonzo, handler of the K-9 unit’s new dog, Reggie, spoke at the memorial, emphasizing the bond between the canine and his handler, Montesano.

“There are no words to describe the inseparable bond between a canine and his handler,” Noterfonzo said.

Noterfonzo presented Montesano with a memory plaque for Sabre in the ceremony. Montesano was emotional and welled up at the ceremony for the dog, who had stayed with the Montesano family after his retirement from the K-9 team and as the mascot of CUPD.

Montesano and Sabre’s K-9 team will be succeeded by Noterfonzo and Reggie, who graduated from the Southern Tier Police Canine Association Training in 2007. The pair have successfully completed 120 hours of scent detection school as a team, according to CUPD.

Sabre’s memorial service lasted about 30 minutes and was followed by a reception in the Founder’s Room in Annabel Taylor Hall.

Rebecca Harris contributed reporting to this article.

Original Author: Manu Rathore