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N.Y. State Park Police name new K-9 after fallen firefighter

The K-9 was given the name Arno as an homage to fallen firefighter Jason Arno, who sacrificed his life in March while responding to a commercial building fire


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By Harold Mcneil
The Buffalo News

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo firefighter Jason Arno, who sacrificed his life five months ago while responding to a four-alarm blaze in a Main Street commercial building, has a new namesake in the State Park Police.

An 18-month-old German shepherd from Hungary, given the name Arno as an homage to the fallen firefighter, was introduced Thursday afternoon by Park Police officers headquartered in Niagara Falls during a news conference at Buffalo Fire Engine Company 2, the Virginia Street station where Arno worked.

“Jason Arno lost his life selflessly serving the public with honor, bravery and loyalty,” said Maj. Clyde Doty, Western District Commander of the State Park Police. “We look for nothing less from our K-9 partners in the performance of their duties.”

Doty and his team of commanders were welcomed to the station by Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo, who was joined by his team.

Arno’s widow, Sarah, mother, Sheryl Maher, and young daughter, Olivia, also attended.

“Thank you for being here and being so gracious and giving of your time and energy over these last several months,” Renaldo said to Arno’s family. “And we in the department pay tribute and homage to Jason’s bravery, dedication and sacrifice.”

Arno, 37, and other firefighters entered a burning building March 1 at 745 Main St.

A wall collapsed as firefighters battled the blaze, started by workers who used blow torches on masonry and bricks before the fire was reported. Thousands of mourners turned out for Arno’s funeral nine days later.

Parks Police purchased their newest K-9 and about a week ago and assigned him to handler Officer Michael Cali, a veteran with nine years of experience as a K-9 handler.

“As we preferred to not use the name that came with the K-9, we were struggling to find a fitting name for him,” Doty said.

Soon after, he and three fellow officers were “sitting around, discussing and throwing out all kinds of different names for suggestions,” Doty said. “Then, out of the blue, Officer Cali simply said, ‘Arno.’ He said, ‘After the Buffalo firefighter, Jason Arno, who was killed in the line of duty this past March.’

“Everyone just kind of stopped, looked at each other after a moment of silence, and Officer Cali just said, ‘Yeah, I like that.’ So, from there, we contacted Commissioner Renaldo to seek approval from Jason’s family.”

Cali and Arno the K-9 are in now in a bonding period.

“His official training is going to start Sept. 11,” Doty said. “He will train first in explosives detection with the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Department and then, eventually, once he completes that training, he’ll go on to patrol tracking and apprehension training. In all, it’ll be roughly 16 weeks.”

Cali said the K-9 is already quite familiar with his new name.

“For about two or three days, he’s been responding to it,” the K-9 officer said. “It’s just been a week that we’ve had him now.”

As Cali petted and rubbed the dog’s thick black fur, Arno the K-9 showed off his welcoming personality in the presence of another K-9 at the news conference.

“I think he’s just really social, a friendly, social dog,” Cali said. “He’s including everybody, and that’s what we want to see.”

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