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Northern Westchester Teen, Others Rally Behind Cancer-Stricken Police Dog

Brewster K-9 Falco, shown here with partner Sgt. Paul Italiano, was diagnosed with lymphoma in October and was expected to live only a few weeks. Falco has been receiving treatment thanks to the generosity of donors. A fundraiser is set for April.
Brewster K-9 Falco, shown here with partner Sgt. Paul Italiano, was diagnosed with lymphoma in October and was expected to live only a few weeks. Falco has been receiving treatment thanks to the generosity of donors. A fundraiser is set for April. Photo Credit: Brewster Police Department

Falco, a 4-year-old police dog, has spent much of his life protecting the good folks of Brewster.

And now the community is rallying to return the favor.

The K-9 was diagnosed in October with lymphoma, which, in dogs, is a common cancer of the lymphocytes, or white blood cells. At first, it appeared that he only had weeks to live, but now his prognosis is encouraging.

The Brewster Elks Club will be hosting a fundraiser to help defray Falco's vet bills at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 7, at its lodge, which is located at 1430 Route 22

Tickets are $25 per person and include an appetizer buffet, music, and draft beer. Checks can be made payable to Brewster Police K-9.

About $15,000 is needed for Falco to complete his treatments.

A GoFundMe site has been set up for Falco’s medical costs, said Chief John DelGardo.

It was created in December and had raised about $6,585 so far.

North Salem High School student Zach Lado spotted a flyer about Falco at the Goldens Bridge Veterinary Care Center.

He then went about collecting money from friends, family members, school employees, and neighbors for the ailing pooch’s care.

Zach, who chipped in $4, managed to raise $117.

In an article published in the village’s newsletter, Italiano called Zach “a special young man” and praised his “wholehearted kindness and effort to help Falco.”

DelGardo and Mayor James Schoenig made Zach an honorary member of the police department’s K-9 unit and presented him with a Brewster PD patch.

They said, all told $7,776 has been raised to help defray vet bills.

According to Falco’s handler, Sgt. Paul Italiano, donations have come from other police associations, Brewster residents and village employees, and residents and businesses in Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess counties.

Wednesday Night Dinner Group and folks as far away as New York City, Toms River, N.J.; and Ashville, Tenn., have also chipped in.

According to Italiano, Falco is the village's only explosives-detecting K-9. He can sniff out anything from a homemade bomb to military or professional- grade explosives.

He named Falco after his friend, John Falcone, a Poughkeepsie police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 2011.

Italiano also acknowledged Dr. Steven Immerblum of the Goldens Bridge Veterinary Care Center, for donating services worth hundreds of dollars.

“We have received many heartwarming notes and letters from the community wishing Falco a speedy recovery,” he said.

Italiano says his canine partner is the best he's ever had.

Although Falco has his good and bad days, his prognosis is encouraging, the police department reports.

The K-9 gets stressed if he feels he is being left behind and is not allowed to do his job, so, for now, he's on light duty.

Between 15 and 20 percent of malignant tumors in dogs are lymphomas. They can occur in the lymph nodes, spleen, liver, and other organs.

Chemotherapy can prolong the stricken animal’s life for months and occasionally years.

To contribute to the GoFundMe site, click here.

To buy tickets for the Elks Club fundraiser, click here.

To reach more about Falco, click here, and scroll down to page 12.

The Brewster Elks Cub can be reached by calling (845) 279-9888.

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