, Salem, MA

March 19, 2014

Falco's fine after tussle with raccoon


---- — DANVERS — Police K-9 officer Justin Ellenton said the town’s police dog, Falco, is not injured, he has just been quarantined after a close encounter with a raccoon.

“He’s not injured; he’s not hurt,” Ellenton said. “He is cleared by the vet to go to work. He’s bored out of his mind, basically,” Ellenton said.

As a precaution, the town ordered the dog quarantined for 45 days, even though state law exempts police dogs from this requirement, Ellenton said.

“Police dogs get rabies shots once a year,” Ellenton said, so there is no need to worry about the disease. The dog did suffer a cut lip, but that soon healed.

Falco received a booster shot after the raccoon encounter on March 3, and Ellenton said the likelihood of Falco coming down with rabies is remote. The dog was cleared to go back to work by the veterinarian, as long as his job did not involve coming into close contact with people.

Ellenton is worried that students might think Falco has a serious injury preventing him from being on the job, a notion he wants to dispel. Ellenton has been touched by the numerous cards he has received from Danvers students worried about the dog. The cards have covered his dining room table, and he has read the pile of cards.

“The outpouring of support has been unbelievable,” said Ellenton, who has been fielding calls from concerned residents and kids alike.

The card drive in the schools for Falco was spurred by Patrolman Jarod Waterman.

“I want to make sure the kids are OK,” Ellenton said, saying they should not worry about the police pooch. Falco is 9.

Since the raccoon encounter, the biggest problem for Falco, who is used to working, is that he’s bored by having nothing to do all day. Both the K-9 officer and Falco cannot wait for April 17 to roll around. That’s when Falco is cleared to go back to work.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.