The Gumshoe: DEA Dog For Only a Day … But What a Day!

GUMSHOE-DANNY-PITOCCO[su_dropcap style=”flat”]W[/su_dropcap]ARRIOR VON SIEGERHAUS was the best partner I ever worked with in my entire law enforcement career. I grew to love him and I took him to my home every night for the five years that we were together. We could communicate with one another without me saying anything or with him barking.

I was there when he died and I cried until I ran out of tears. There has not been a day since his death (at a very young age of eight years) almost twenty-five years ago, that I don’t miss him. I still have his working collar that he loved to wear when we were both on duty. I was blessed being his assigned handler!

Warrior was a beautiful black and gold pure blooded German Sheppard who was fearless in all situations and who gave me his loyalty and trust.   His commands were all in German (made sense because of his breed) and he was a very proud dog in his attitude and bearing. He was never considered a pet; he was my true companion and partner.

I was his “handler” and he was my police canine partner during the last few years that I spent with the City of Orange Police Department, Orange County, California.

When I left the “Big O” (as us Orange PD officers referred to the agency) in 1986 to join the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA – Federal Narc’s) as a newly minted special agent; I actually purchased Warrior for a princely sum (he was still in his prime) simply out of love and more importantly he was my son (before I actually was blessed with a human son several years later). In my book you never ever abandon your partner or your family!

deaDuring my first year as a rookie DEA guy (acronym for DEA was “Don’t Expect Anything”) I was assigned to the Los Angeles Field Office, Enforcement Group 5. My boss was a well-seasoned and respected Group Supervisor, George Cassenavette, who was a full-blooded Cajun from Louisiana and had the accent and enthusiasm to prove it – he always referred to me as “Danny boy”.

Well, as a DEA guy, we would be detailed out to assist other law enforcement agencies within the greater Los Angeles area and because some of their respective drug investigations would be referred for federal prosecutions rather than to the state. You see, federal drug statues and sentencing were superior to the state of confusion called California and with a DEA guy on the scene gave the locals more resources at their disposal.

Actually, the real reason was “asset forfeiture”. This was the buzz word when it came to federally seizing ill-gotten gains (linked to drug sales) such as cars, airplanes, motor homes, boats, cash, bank accounts, firearms, houses, jewelry, electronics, precious metals, coins, etc., among other luxury items in which the sales or impound of these federally-seized assets would be shared with the locals.

The incidental seizure of the narcotics or illicit substances was also good but these items were later destroyed after adjudication (trial and sentencing) and really did not produce any monies for the investigating agencies. Asset forfeiture was a pretty good deal for local law enforcement and business was very good in the Los Angeles area!

Sorry, I got a little off-track there, but I wanted to explain to you fine readers why me, the lone DEA agent, was at the scene of a search warrant in an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County with the county deputies one early morning.

The night before, I had been assigned by my boss George to attend an early morning briefing session with the deputies at the Los Angele Deputy Sheriff – Firestone Substation. I advised boss-man George that I had a certified police canine partner who was very good at search warrant scenes not only in “man-work”- biting armed or fleeing suspects – but my partner “Warrior” was also crossed-trained in stiffing out dope – in this case, cocaine was the drug of choice at the time.

God bless Cajon George, he said go ahead and take my partner simply because there was no DEA policy to prevent it and besides, a police K-9 back-up would always be welcomed at the scene of a high-risk search warrant. You see, if there are drugs, there are guns; if there is stash money, there are guns; if there are crooks, they like guns – anyway you slice it, there are guns regardless of the contraband and these guns are held by very serious felons who really don’t want to give-up their cash or guns.

There is also another serious wrinkle in this search warrant equation – it was not uncommon for other bad guys to wear police raid jackets and break into dope stash houses to rob the other bad guys of their dope and cash and on occasion leave no witnesses to snitch them out to their respective drug organization or cartel.

Okay, it was about 0700 hours to execute the search warrant on this dope house. We decided to enter the residence via the front door (side facing towards the driveway) of this non-descript single story 1950’s era bungalow to do the “knock and notice” before breaking down the door – which happened within the sound of the last Spanish-speaking syllable of “Policia, abre la puerta!”.

Warrior and myself were the first inside the front door that opened into the small kitchen at which time a very chubby Hispanic (later identified as Colombian) wearing a too small white tee shirt and very tight white fruit-of-the-looms had been sitting at a small table chewing some chorizo. He immediately ran post haste down to the hallway leading to a back bedroom where a door was being slammed shut.

Warrior being Warrior, did what he had done numerous times before when I pushed a button on his “quick release” harness and shouted in German – um ihn! (get him!). Warrior instantly shot like a land shark to the fleeing chorizo-breath-undie-wearing suspect and took a pretty good bite grip upon the suspect’s left (rather very ample) buttock cheek that immediately elicited a very loud guttural scream (no translation necessary) from the suspect.

While myself and several other deputies remained behind cover in the kitchen, it was just like watching a cartoon with Wylie Coyote’s feet spinning one hundred miles and hours trying to go forward and getting no where because he was simultaneously being pulled back by Warrior past us and into the waiting arms of the deputies standing directly outside the kitchen entry way door.

I then called Warrior back to me and as he came along my right side above my gun hand the rear bedroom door (that we had moments before heard distinctively “slam”) opened-up and a right arm extended outward with a silver metal four-inch barrel pistol clenched inside the right hand.

Warrior instinctively (through repeated hours of training) once again rapidly bounded down the hallway and actually leaped into the air and put about 2200 lbs. of tinsel strength from his jaw and canine teeth into the out-stretched lower arm of the pistol-welding suspect.

Warrior pulled the suspect out from behind the bedroom door and then down onto the hallway floor. This suspect also elicited excited screams of pain that caused him to release his 357. caliber pistol.   He was also clad in fruit-of-the-looms (must have been a sale at the local K-Mart?). We then made very short work of placing him into handcuffs and cleared the remaining residence without any further incident.

Score DEA and LASD with two suspects – one missing a chunk of his ass; one with future scars on an inoperable gun hand – eight kilo’s of cocaine – several thousand dollars in US currency (all tens and twenties) – two Smith & Wesson .357 caliber pistols and a fresh open package of chorizo’s. Not too shabby.

Needless to say, several of the deputies made consecutive runs to the local Mickey D’s (cop talk for McDonald’s) and picked-up just plain hamburgers (minus buns and fixings) who insisted on feeding Warrior (the scourge of Colombian drug traffickers) while the search warrant scene was being processed.

Later that afternoon, the after-action report flooded the halls of the DEA headquarters. Myself, along with Cajon George, were later summoned to the office of the Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Office. He complemented me on the successful result of the search warrant and he actually wanted to meet and pet Warrior. (No more hamburgers though – Warrior had his fill!)

I was then advised that since I made DEA history with Warrior, (he did all of the work mind you) that this would be the first and only day that Warrior would be permitted to be an un-official DEA dog due to possible liability of replacing the ass cheek of a very shocked and excited Colombian. The one-armed pistol- welding Colombian was not mentioned though.

This gave a very new meaning to “Ass-set forfeiture”, indeed!

Well, fine folks; this is another stranger-than-fiction story from the law enforcement annuals of police gypsy and retired Gumshoe Danny. I dedicate this story to my best partner and son “Warrior Von Seigerhaus” who I will one day meet again in Heaven!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Epilog: Several years later, Warrior developed bone cancer and I, as his loving handler and partner, had him put down. He looked me in the eyes and told me that it was his time to go – I hugged him and I took off his working-caller to let him know he could finally be off-duty. My tears were from my heart that broke for my great German comrade in arms – Warrior Von Siegerhaus.

Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.
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Ken Vincent
Ken Vincent

I love it. I’ve known many animals that had more sense, and more guts than a lot of humans. It is very easy to fall in love with them. A dog is one of the few living things that gives absolute unqualified loyalty and love, expecting nothing in return.

Editor

You couldn’t have said it better Ken!

Jane Anderson

I want to cry for you and Warrior. I know I would have loved him too and would have wanted to be his handler. Both my brothers served many years as detectives but I don’t think either of them could tell a story like this one. I was right there in the with you and the “chorizo-breath-undie-wearing suspect”. LOL I can’t wait to meet him in heaven. Maybe he already knows my beloved Lassie – not an unofficial DEA dog, but an official well loved pet.

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