Officer Jason Brungardt will no longer patrol with his K-9 partner, Brunie.
On Sunday a veterinarian put down Brunie, a Belgian Malinois who had served with the Kansas City police since 2012.
Brunie had dysautonomia, which destroys the autonomic nervous system in dogs. Officers remain uncertain how Brunie contracted the disease. But they think he ingested something toxic on a recent search for a person in Belton.
The dog’s death left Brungardt emotional Tuesday while discussing Brunie’s passing.
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“The bond between officers and K-9 partners is extremely overwhelming,” said Brungardt. “You get to take your buddy home every day. It is the best job on the department.”
On Sept. 20, Brunie and Brungardt responded to a call from Belton police for help tracking someone who fled after a traffic stop. At some point in a 45-minute search, the person left the wooded area where police were looking for him. Officers arrested him later in Grandview.
“Brunie did his job,” Brungardt said. “He flushed the suspect out.”
But troubling symptoms appeared in Brunie the next day. He was dehydrated and lethargic, and had lost his appetite.
“Normally, Brunie was super high-energy,” Brungardt said, “76 pounds of pure enjoyment.”
But over the course of the following week, Brunie’s weight dropped from 76 to 59 pounds. One visit to a veterinarian’s office soon was followed by two emergency visits. Brungardt stayed with Brunie over one 10-hour session while the dog received fluids intravenously.
“But there was no cure or fix,” he said. “The decision was made to let Brunie go.”
Brunie was a dual-purpose dog who deployed on patrol calls and was also trained to detect explosives. He was gentle when Brungardt took him home to his family, and to his own two dogs.
“But when the switch came on,” Brungardt said, “Brunie was ready to find bad guys.”
That was especially so on Aug. 1, 2013, when he responded to a carjacking.
During a pursuit, the carjacker turned off Interstate 435 at the Winner Road exit. He fled the car and ran across a field carrying a gun.
Among the officers pursuing him was Brungardt, who then deployed Brunie.
According to a citation from the National Police Canine Association, Brungardt yelled to the carjacker that he would release a police canine if he did not surrender. The carjacker “then drew a black handgun from the front of his waistband, at which time Officer Brungardt released canine ‘Brunie.’”
Brunie held onto the carjacker’s left hand with his mouth, according to the citation, and “took him to the ground, causing him to drop the gun.” Other officers soon took control of the man.
Brunie received the canine association’s 2013 Patrol Case of the Year award.
“He saved my life,” Brungardt said Tuesday.
Brunie lived 3 years and 8 months. Such dogs can cost a police department about $12,000.
“But for me he was priceless,’ Brungardt said, “and in the end he made the ultimate sacrifice. He was a public servant, and the public deserves to know about him.”
To reach Brian Burnes, call 816-234-4120 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.