Finding Niko: Greenfield Police K-9 returns safely after darting from Gill kennel

  • Niko, a patrol K-9 with the Greenfield Police Department, is back safe with his handler, Officer Patrick Merrigan after escaping from the Gill kennel he was with on Thursday. Courtesy Photo/Greenfield Police Department

Staff Writer
Published: 5/20/2022 4:43:46 PM

GREENFIELD — Perhaps this is why they’re called man’s best friend.

Greenfield Police Officer Patrick Merrigan and his wife had just landed in Wisconsin on Thursday for a wedding when Merrigan got a call that his patrol K-9, Niko, had escaped from the Gill kennel where he was staying. The Merrigans caught the next flight back to Massachusetts, where they were picked up in a police cruiser and brought to Gill so Merrigan could recover the pooch, who residents had been tracking, at roughly 10:30 p.m.

“He was looking for his handler,” Acting Chief William Gordon said about Niko, who was on the lam for about 13 hours. “What a tight bond between the handler and a dog.”

Gordon said Merrigan missed the wedding but didn’t think twice about coming home to help find his four-legged companion.

Niko, a German shepherd, scaled two 6-foot fences at the Gill kennel at roughly 9:30 a.m. and fled into the woods. It is customary for a police K-9 to be kenneled while its handler is out of town.

Nearly a dozen K-9 handlers from across western Massachusetts assisted officers from Greenfield, Gill, Northfield, the State Police, the state Environmental Police and members of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in an attempt to find and secure Niko. Gill residents also assisted, though they were instructed not to approach or try to contain the dog, as this would have made him run and hide more. Gordon said Niko was located on four separate occasions but is trained to respond only to his handler.

Gordon said Merrigan’s parents, in-laws and young son were brought in to try to coax the canine, but those efforts were fruitless.

“That was heartbreaking, to see the little kid yelling, ‘Niko! Niko!’ and the dog not responding,” Gordon said.

He mentioned Missing Dogs Massachusetts sent humane traps, which were unsuccessful.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or
413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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