I am writing this letter to the editor not to explain police accomplishments in Westport but to express my role as a crime victim. Three months ago on April 2, my girlfriend and I had to euthanize our 5-year-old German Shepherd named Siren. Siren had become ill basically overnight and he didn’t want to walk. Within a few hours he couldn’t walk. After an initial visit to Acoaxet Animal Hospital and follow-up visit to Tufts University (Cummings School of Veterinary medicine), tests revealed bleeding which had pressed against his spinal cord. The wonderful doctors from both hospitals were caring and kind professionals.
After an MRI we made the difficult decision (one that most of you who read this have probably been forced to do yourselves as pet owners) to euthanize him to stop his pain. It was a selfless decision as we wanted to keep this dog alive. Siren was a family member, a trusted companion, a guardian and a friend — the kind of friend who listened without judgment, shared life experiences and helped you get through tough days at work.
But above all this dog had a higher purpose. He had been training for one year as a Search and Rescue dog. One day that dog might have found a missing child or helped to locate an elderly person who wandered off from home.
A few days ago we learned that Siren’s necropsy revealed poison in samples of his liver. He had been killed.
I have been a Westport police officer since 1989. In the last 25 years I have arrested many people and sent an assortment of them to jail and prison. I have done all this and put myself in harm’s way for a greater purpose. I have done my job at a sacrifice often to my family’s needs and wants.
I have treated crime victims and even some deserving suspects with empathy. It is a word that is many times discarded in today’s world. As I wrote this letter I tried to think of what caliber of person would hide in the shadows with the intent to target an animal in a fenced-in yard. Part of my job is to profile people’s behavior and try to figure out what drives them to do the things they do so I can solve crime. In the past 25 years I am sure I have made people angry, happy, sad and frustrated. Unfortunately I have also had victims unhappy with an overburdened criminal justice system that doesn’t always function flawlessly. I have even had people I arrested thank me and sometimes threaten or assault me.
I always viewed it as part of what comes with the job as long as someone doesn’t cross that sacred line in the sand. What type of degenerate would enact personal revenge on a family’s pet. Siren at 100 pounds was an imposing figure who had a beautiful amber coat and bold European German Shepherd looks. This was a cowardly act that happened at my home in my fenced in yard. I have reflected on that time when he got sick to see who may be responsible. I have criminally charged suspects with this felony crime for causing much less pain to an animal. Too many times I have had to endure the sight of people who starve and mistreat animals who need care and safe place to live.
A friend and mentor (when I was a rookie police officer) always mentioned a quote by Theodore Roosevelt during his “dare greatly” speech. It is a mantra for one’s life. In part that speech talked about how the credit (in life) belongs to the person who is actually in the arena whose face is marred by sweat and dust and blood, who spends himself in a worthy cause … so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
Only a coward of the lowest sort would abuse or neglect an animal. To that person and their friends, family and acquaintances, Karma is one day coming your way. To the rest of the animal loving world I am offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to criminal charges against this timid soul.
I did not write this letter so that people would feel badly (some hardened souls might not). I wrote this letter to the neighbors, friends, relatives and family of the person who may have done this despicable deed. I realize that people commit crimes for a number of reasons, from substance abuse problems to a desire to prey on weaker victims for money or just the thrill of it. To the culprit who poisoned this dog, you either told someone already, you will tell someone in the future, or you can take this secret to your maker.
I am not on a witch hunt but a specific mission to be sure that I attribute responsibility to the right person who killed this dog. There is a place for you somewhere and I am not going anywhere anytime soon.