An officer and his family are distraught after their beloved K9 dog was taken away from them by SEPTA Police.
“It’s hard,” Nicole Galanti told NBC10. “It’s like a hole inside of you. And you know that he’s probably not coming back to us.”
Galanti said her husband, SEPTA Transit Police officer Richard Galanti, received a memo from work back on March 23 that they would be transferring him from his K9 unit on April 1. The transfer meant that Officer Galanti could no longer keep his K9 Abal. On Tuesday he brought Abal to a kennel where the dog will stay until a new owner is found.
“There was no warning, no reprimand, no explanation or reason,” Galanti wrote in a petition which had nearly 11,000 signatures as of late Tuesday night. “Only the sudden unjust, unsupported transfer of one of the most experienced k9 handlers in the department and the removal of our beloved working dog Abal.”
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SEPTA Police Chief Thomas Nestel released a statement on the dog.
“Abal is a fit and energetic K9 who is trained to work in policing and should have years of good service ahead of him,” Nestel wrote. “Denying a healthy, trained working dog that opportunity would be unfair to the K9 and the Department.”
Galanti told NBC10 they were given only a week’s warning and no option to retire Abal despite his five years spent with them.
“I didn’t think that people could be so mean, trying to take him away from us,” said Galanti’s son Cole while in tears.
Galanti’s petition calls on Chief Nestel to reconsider his position.
“He’s my family and I have to fight for him,” she said.
Galanti said Abal has been with the family through devastating events, including the death of her 14-year-old son, who was killed in a car accident in 2014, and the death of her mother-in-law a week later.
“When they die it’s hard because you love them,” Galanti said. “But to have them taken away it doesn’t make any sense. It really doesn’t make any sense.”
SEPTA Police have not given a reason for Officer Galanti’s sudden transfer. A SEPTA spokeswoman said Abal will have a new handler Friday.