Award winning Port Elizabeth police dog dies

Bruno was euthanized on Friday after losing his battle with cancer.

Bruno with his handler Sergeant Shaun Dicks.
Bruno with his handler Sergeant Shaun Dicks.
Image: Supplied

An award winning Port Elizabeth police dog – who has assisted in the fight against rhino poaching and helped arrest more than 400 criminals  – has died.

Bruno, an eight-year-old  Rottweiler, was euthanized on Friday after losing his battle with cancer.

Bruno was diagnosed about two years ago but after receiving treatment, he was still able to continue with active duties until last month.

Devastated handler Sergeant Shaun Dicks, 37, who had been working with Bruno for six years, said  putting Bruno  to sleep was one the hardest things he had ever had  to do.

Dicks said: “I knew it had to be done. The tests confirmed that the cancer had returned and he was taken off duty to rest and spend his final moments at  home.”

On Wednesday, Bruno’s condition deteriorated and on Friday a decision was made to euthanise him.

Dicks, who Bruno lived with, described him as a crime fighting machine who loved jumping out of helicopters and chasing criminals.

Bruno was a trained patrol and explosive detection dog used to apprehend fleeing criminals as well as sniffing out any explosive type item, including guns and ammunition.

During Bruno’s six year career at the Port Elizabeth K9 unit he assisted Dicks with several arrests including catching hijackers, robbers, gangsters and burglars.

Dicks said Bruno had been by his side during hundreds of arrests, estimating that together the team had caught about 400 suspected criminals. over the past six years.

The team’s success led to them winning the Annual Tracker Individual Award for recovering 50 hijacked and stolen vehicles between July 2016 and July 2017. 

In addition to this, the team arrested 98 suspects – mostly linked to vehicle theft or hijackings.

Just two weeks ago, Bruno assisted with the recovery of a hijacked vehicle in New Brighton.

“We were at the vet getting his stitches out of his leg when I got information of the hijacking.

“I put him in the police car and together we went off, finding the car abandoned a short while later,” Dicks said.

“Bruno was feared by criminals and he was dedicated to fighting crime. His tail would go crazy with excitement every time we had to go to work – he simply loved it. 

“Even more so, he loved flying in the police helicopter.”

Bruno, an eight-year-old Rottweiler, was euthanized on Friday after losing his battle with cancer.
Bruno, an eight-year-old  Rottweiler, was euthanized on Friday after losing his battle with cancer.
Image: Supplied

Dicks said in 2015, Bruno was deployed alongside him in the Kruger National Park to combat the on-going poaching crisis.

“We made several arrests of suspected poachers and recovered lots of firearms while there. Bruno certainly did his bit to fight poachers,” he said.

In addition to flying in helicopters and chasing fleeing robbers, Bruno was also used to sniff out criminals hiding in buildings and even on-board boats at the harbour.

“We often assisted in clearing the airport during sweeps to make sure no firearms or explosives were hidden there,” he said. 

“These are just some of the things we do but no one hears about.

“Taking Bruno to the vet was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

“He was my partner in crime and really a great dog who was passionate about going to work in the morning.

“He use to wake me up at 4am with his tail wagging waiting to go to work,” Dicks said.

“I saw the difference in his behaviour in the last few weeks and the only comfort I have is knowing that at least now he is not in pain.”

Animal Anti-Cruelty League spokeswoman Linda-Louise Swain called Bruno a “champion of champions” who would be sorely missed.

Swain said Dicks and Bruno   had donated R10 000 worth of food and blankets after winning the Tracker Award last year.

“Our love and thoughts are with Shaun Dicks at this sad time. RIP Bruno. You have made your mark.”