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Parents of slain officer push for N.H. law to save injured police K-9s

The legislation became a crusade for Patrick and Denise Gannon after the fatal shooting of their son Sean, and the mortal wound to Sean’s K-9 Nero


Photo/Yarmouth PD

By Kevin Landrigan
The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester

CONCORD, N.H. — The parents of a slain Yarmouth, Mass. police officer joined with Manchester and Portsmouth police Tuesday, urging the Legislature to require that canines injured in the line of duty get on-the-scene treatment from first responders.

“Changing this law would bring New Hampshire in line with standard protocols that save the lives of these K-9s that are such a part of the fabric of law enforcement today,” said Patrick Gannon.

The legislation became a crusade for Gannon and his wife, Denise Morency Gannon, after the fatal shooting of their son Sean, and the mortal wound to Sean’s police dog, Nero, in 2018.

Massachusetts state law at the time did not permit emergency medical technicians to attend to Nero or to bring him to a veterinary hospital in one of several empty ambulances.

Despite being shot in the head, Nero survived after he rode to the vet in the back of a police cruiser.

The New Hampshire bill (SB 268) to create Max’s Law would honor the memory of a Portsmouth canine who died in 2019 after suffering internal injuries at a training exercise in Rollinsford.

“Without this law in place, we’ll never know if Max could have benefitted from more timely transport,” Patrick Gannon said.

Three New England states have passed similar laws.

Former Gov. Charles Baker signed the Massachusetts law last year; Maine and Rhode Island are among several other states that also have adopted it.

“This is a common-sense change to update our laws to reflect current practices when it comes to K-9 police units,” said Sen. Bill Gannon, R-Sandown, and no relation to the Massachusetts family.

Denise Morency Gannon said the aim of this legislative effort is to highlight the important contributions that police dogs make in support of public safety.

“We stand behind law enforcement and it’s so gratifying to see them turn out in support of their K-9s,” she said.

As written, the bill makes clear that dogs can ride in ambulances only after other vehicles take all injured persons from the crime scene.

Once the dog is taken to the vet, the bill requires the ambulance to be fully cleaned.

EMTs are also given immunity from personal liability for transporting the dog unless there’s evidence of “gross negligence.”

“In the past, the belief was that putting the dog in an ambulance transport could somehow compromise that environment,” Patrick Gannon said.

“In addition, EMTs did not receive proper training for working with canines. All that has changed.”

In 2021, Thomas Latanowich, of Somerville, Mass., was convicted of second-degree murder in Sean Gannon’s death. He was sentenced to life in prison but will eventually be eligible for parole.

The Senate Judiciary Committee took initial testimony on the bill Tuesday. The bill has sponsorship from 13 of 24 state senators from both political parties.

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