SAUGUS — A sea of blue lights lined the streets of Saugus, firefighters saluted from the Public Safety Building, and children stood outside their schools with hand-made signs to honor the town’s beloved police dog as he took his final ride Thursday.
Bruin, a 9-year-old patrol K-9, died Thursday just weeks after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He joined the department in 2011 at 16 months old, attended training with his partner, Officer Timothy Fawcett, and was a certified patrol K-9. He was also certified and trained to detect narcotics.
Though he had only recently been diagnosed, his health quickly declined in the past week. When the decision was made for Bruin to be euthanized, the community stepped up to honor him on his final ride through the streets he loved to patrol.
“He has worked hard for the last eight years and his time was cut short, but we want to give him a good send-off,” said Saugus Lt. Michael Ricciardelli.
So they did.
A route for Bruin’s final ride, which passed by the dog’s favorite places in town, was released Wednesday. With news traveling overnight, residents lined the streets with their own furry friends to thank Bruin for his service.
Children at the Oaklandvale Elementary School created hand-made signs, letters, and lined the sidewalk in front of the school to wave goodbye to the K-9.
First grade teacher Jennifer Ricciardelli said the students knew Bruin well. Each year, she teaches a lesson on community workers and service animals. Each year, Bruin visits the school to teach the students about his job.
Bruin, Fawcett, and Michael Ricciardelli visited the Oaklandvale Elementary School last week to read to children in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.
“The kids see him out in the community, and they know him, and they know that Officer Fawcett is approachable,” said Jennifer Ricciardelli.
Second grade student Alena Bruzzese said Bruin taught her about the importance of his job.
“He leads people to safety,” said Bruzzese, who added that his sense of smell is an asset human police officers can’t offer.
“We hid his favorite toy and he found it with his smell,” she recalled.
Bruin represented the department on more than 100 visits he made to schools and other events, said Interim Police Chief Ronald Giorgetti.
“He touched many lives,” said Giorgetti. “Bruin was a great K-9, and served the department well. He had a special place in the heart of the community. He will be missed greatly by the Saugus Police Department and all members of the public.”
The Saugus Police Department will hold a memorial service to recognize K-9 Bruin and Fawcett’s service to the department in the coming weeks and will provide details at a later date.