The Sedalia Police Department announced last week the loss of one of its K9s, Gallo, who died due to a serious medical issue.
K9 Gallo was an 8-year-old Malinois who joined the SPD in October 2013. Gallo and the department’s other K9, Charlie, were brought from Arkansas together. Gallo served as a drug detection dog and was partnered with Sedalia Police Officer William Connor since the beginning. They served nearly six years together with Gallo spending most nights riding around with Connor.
“We’d run the backup role for car stops and we’d do a lot of car sniffs. That was our primary thing…” Connor said. “We did a lot of search warrants. Over the times he'd do quite a few building searches and stuff like that but cars are our primary gig.”
Connor and Gallo also spent a lot of time in area schools doing locker searches, demonstrations, and classroom visits.
“We had some little videos out there that showed how many scent receptors dogs have versus people...We’d do some stuff like that and then actually do some demonstration stuff,” he said.
Dogs dominated discussion at the Sedalia City Council’s special meeting Monday.
Gallo was always well behaved, according to Connor, and never tore things up. Connor said he was even able to leave the center door open in the car to allow Gallo to come up toward the front seat and keep watch when they were parked.
“If I was sitting someplace at night I could drop the back windows and then you can hear him start grumbling just a little bit. You’d hear him and you’d start looking around like, ‘Man I don't see anybody’ and you’d go back to what you’re doing…and then sure enough here comes somebody up,” he recalled.
Gallo was particularly protective of the patrol car, according to Connor, who told a story about a time he left Gallo in the patrol car to get dog food.
“I come out the door and he had slipped off of that armrest (in the front seat) and right underneath that is where the siren box is and where the switch panel is. So every time he barks he’s jumping up and down and this foot is turning lights on and this foot is hitting the air horn. So I come out and I hear this (air horn sound) because he’s barking at somebody,” Connor said while laughing.
According to Connor, Gallo did not seem to have a favorite part of the job — he just liked to go.
“Even on the nights off, everybody else would go to sleep and we’d go out and wander around at 1 in the morning, stop and play ball at someplace, stuff like that. He just, everybody went to bed and it’s ‘Let’s go, it’s time to go out,’” Connor said.
“They get on your schedule and we worked nights most of the time, so just like everybody else they get used to, ‘Hey it’s 2 in the morning, it’s not time to sleep let’s go do something.”
During Tuesday’s Sedalia City Council meeting, Sedalia Police Chief Matthew Wirt read a speech honoring Gallo’s service.
“Gallo’s service helped make our community a safer place and created a positive interaction with children and the police…” Wirt said. “Gallo was a wonderful part of our department and will be dearly missed by all members of the SPD family, but especially by Officer Connor…We appreciate all he did and the joy he brought to our department and to his handler.”
Wirt also spoke about the close bond the two shared.
“K9 Gallo was also known for his protective nature and love for his handler Officer Connor. We all knew you should never get too close to his police car because you would be quickly reminded with a fierce bark and he would shake the police car,” he said. “If you ever watched Officer Connor and Gallo work together you could easily tell there was a strong bond between them.”
Connor said it has been an adjustment getting used to not having Gallo around.
“It’s weird — you get so used to, I would say something to him getting out of the car…Just little things like that you get so used to… it’s weird. You keep looking for stuff that’s not there because you spent so long doing the same thing,” he said.
K9 officers go through special training and maintain that training throughout their careers with their dogs. The dogs live with the officers, who take care of them full time. Despite all the extra work, Connor said it was worth it because he likes the work, the dog, and getting to work with the community of K9 officers in the area. He especially enjoyed the time he got to spend with Gallo.
“Having somebody else to talk to all night long. With the body camera stuff in the last few years…The first five seconds of my video is me still talking to the dog or something…” Connor said.
“He knows it all. He definitely would know it all. He’d have all the answers.”