Cheektowaga officer honored for dog rescue in December

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CHEEKTOWAGA, NY – The American Red Cross recognizes a Cheektowaga police officer as the Animal Rescue Hero Award winner for a call he responded to last December.

Patroller James Rutkowski was nearing the end of his shift on December 30, 2020 when witnesses called police about a dog stuck in a stream.

The dog was a newly adopted boxer breed named Gracie, who escaped on her first visit to the nearby vet.

Rutkowski spotted her glued to a branch in ice water up to her waist.

“We are trained throughout law enforcement, they always tell us, no matter what situation you are in, do something,” Rutkowski said. “Don’t just stand there and do [nothing.] Do something.”

He followed the sound of her screams and wasted no time jumping over a chain link fence, breaking branches and wading through the water to free it.

“It was scary at first for sure, just because, you know, you’re out there, the moment I first found her, I was alone,” he said. declared. “We had the snowmelt that day. It was colder and the stream was moving quite well. her.”

His partner, patroller Troy Blackchief, arrived with reinforcements to pass Gracie to the shore. She arrived unharmed.

Rutkowski, the owner of two dogs, said it was second nature.

“If I was another dog owner and couldn’t reach my dog, I would like someone to step in and that’s kind of what I did,” he said. .

The family thanked Rutkowski and Blackchief after the rescue with a gift basket and a message from Gracie that read, “Officer Rutkowski, until recently I didn’t know the kindness of human touch and I’m still learning to trust! I got scared and ran until I couldn’t run anymore. I got into real trouble and cried out for help. You responded to my cries with kind words and a gentle hand. Your selflessness and bravery saved me and gave me another chance in the life I deserve. You are my hero ! Love, Gracie.

That’s why patroller James Rutkowski is your American Red Cross animal rescue hero in 2021.


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