In The Philadelphia Inquirer, Wednesday, December 6, 2006 in the
section entitled "Local News" (Pennsylvania Suburbs Edition).
Many mourn dog killed by hunter; memorial
By Kathleen Brady Shea
Public response to the shooting of Nelo, a drug-sniffing German
shepherd who was accidentally killed by a hunter last week, has
poured in to the Brandywine Regional Police Department. A memorial
for the police dog will be held Monday.
When Nelo, the drug-sniffing German shepherd, was accidentally
killed by a hunter last week, public response flooded the Police
Department that owned the dog.
Brandywine Regional Police Chief Mark D. Kocsi said 90 percent of
the calls and e-mails - too numerous to count - have expressed
condolences. Others have run the gamut from generous offers to
replace the $7,200 dog to outrage over his death at the hands of a
man who apparently mistook Nelo for a coyote.
On Monday, the Police Department will have a memorial service for
Nelo - at a Baptist church. And there is even a place where folks
can donate to a memorial fund.
"I never anticipated the magnitude of the response," Kocsi said
yesterday. "This is amazing; it has taken on a life of its own."
Kocsi said the East Brandywine Baptist Church in Downingtown was
selected for the service because of its positive history with the
"I really don't know what to expect," Kocsi said. "The church can
only hold three to four hundred people."
Kocsi said the dog's handler, Officer Denise Knoke, helped plan
the short service, which will include tributes, a bagpiper and a K-9
The department - totally unfamiliar with the intricacies of a dog
memorial - received invaluable help from the Internet, Kocsi said.
"It's unbelievable what you can find when you type 'canine poems'
on Google," he said.
Coping with the emotional toll on the department has been a much
tougher challenge, Kocsi said, especially for Knoke.
"She's taken this pretty hard," Kocsi said.
He explained that Knoke, a former veterinary assistant and avowed
animal lover, had been in training with Nelo for several months
before Nelo joined the department last month. Nelo also lived with
Kocsi said Nelo, who was on a leash, bolted from Knoke during a
walk on Nov. 26 after being startled by a firecracker. The dog was
found dead last Wednesday.
District Attorney Joseph W. Carroll said the investigation into
Nelo's death had not been completed. He said a hunter, whom he did
not identify, admitted shooting Nelo on the West Caln Township
property where the 16-month-old German shepherd was found.
Despite being on the street for only three weeks, Nelo made
friends quickly, Kocsi said.
"He had a lot of energy and was very approachable," Kocsi said.
"He was an absolutely gorgeous dog."
Kocsi said it was too early "after this tragedy" to determine
whether the department would consider replacing Nelo, who was
insured only for liability.
The department set up a memorial fund because "people insisted on
sending money regardless of what we told them," Kocsi said.
He said that if the department decided not to add a K-9 officer,
the money would be donated to an animal shelter.
In the meantime, Knoke has received permission to keep Nelo's