December 7, 2012

Sacramento police officer goes above and beyond

It certainly wasn't a routine call for the Sacramento Police Department.

It certainly wasn't a routine call for the Sacramento Police Department.

And it was one that earned Officer Maryna Stanionis the gratitude of a resident in need of help.

Last week, Stanionis was dispatched to a call of a man needing help finding his dogs – not a priority call by any stretch, but it was a slow day, so the three-year veteran headed to 25th Avenue in Oak Park to check it out.

"I was like, 'Well, that's a new one,' " she said in a later interview.

There, she met 54-year-old Brad Alford, a blind man who was concerned about his two dogs – one of them his retired guide dog – who had gone missing.

Alford said he had let the dogs out to go to the bathroom and grew worried when they did not respond to his calls to come back inside. It was the afternoon of Nov. 28, a stormy day in Sacramento, and he knew the storm had knocked down one of his fences.

Alford said he was concerned the dogs – Ving, the black Labrador, and Pug the, well, pug – had gotten out of the yard. Ving is very well-trained, said Alford, so it was particularly alarming that he did not respond to calls to return.

It didn't take long for Stanionis to find the dogs. Pug, who apparently doesn't mind his owner so well, was found safe and returned to the house. But Ving, 10 years old, was found lying in the rain, unable to get up.

"His little eyebrows had turned white, he was so old," Stanionis said. "His hips completely locked up so he couldn't get up."

Efforts to coax him off the ground didn't work, so Stanionis eventually hoisted the dog up and carried him inside. She said she laid him down next to a heater to "thaw his hips out."

Alford said Ving is now on medication to help out his arthritis and is moving around with much more ease.

But he hasn't forgotten about Stanionis. He called her supervisor to compliment her kindness and professionalism.

"She went above and beyond the call of duty for something that wasn't really a police matter," Alford said.

Stanionis, a Tennessee native who had been laid off and then rehired twice by the Police Department because of budget troubles, said it was an odd call, but that she was happy to help.

"No, I didn't come to California from Tennessee to pick up 100-pound dogs," she said, "but this is my dream job and I'm happy to be here."

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