After biting two people within three months — a police officer and a doughnut shop worker — a Coconut Creek police dog has been bounced off the force.
Renzo, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois, had been with the department about a year and a half. In November, he bit a Coconut Creek officer while tracking a suspect, wounding the officer’s leg.
In a more severe attack last week, Renzo burst from a squad car and tore into a doughnut shop employee’s calf. The worker has hired a lawyer.
The recent incident occurred Feb. 11 in the parking lot of the Dunkin’ Donuts at 1454 N. State Road 7 in Margate.
According to Margate police, Renzo and his handler, Officer Carl DiBlasi, 53, went to the doughnut shop to meet a Coconut Creek Police Sgt. Brandi Delvecchio. The sergeant began to pet Renzo, who was in DiBlasi’s patrol car, and the dog lunged at her.
DiBlasi warned Delvecchio to back away, and struggled to restrain the dog, which was halfway out the car window. Still holding Renzo’s harness, DiBlasi tried to undo his seat belt but lost his grip. The black K9 “sprung out of the marked vehicle,” Margate police said in a report.
DiBlasi screamed Renzo’s name and three times hollered “fuey!” an obedience command for “incorrect behavior.” The dog started to charge another officer, then changed course and dashed toward doughnut shop employee Robert Doherty, 37, Coral Springs, who was reaching into his car for his apron, Margate police said.
Doherty heard DiBlasi screaming at Renzo and jumped into his car. But he couldn’t get his leg in fast enough and was bitten. He suffered four bites, two to three inches long, to his right calf and shin. Margate police said DiBlasi had to “pry” Renzo from his victim “after less than a minute of struggling.”
Another officer rendered aid to Doherty and called paramedics.
Doherty referred calls to his attorney, who could not be reached for comment.
In the Nov. 26 incident, Renzo bit Coconut Creek Police Officer Michael Giuttari, 26, who with DiBlasi was tracking a home invasion suspect shortly before midnight in the 4400 block of Hillsboro Boulevard. DiBlasi tripped and lost control of Renzo, who spun around and bit Giuttari, inflicting “multiple puncture wounds,” Coconut Creek police reported.
DiBlasi told investigators Renzo must have seen the other officer as a threat, according to a police report.
But the dog’s days as a law enforcer are over.
“I have made the decision to retire K9 Renzo,” Coconut Creek Police Chief Michael J. Mann said Wednesday in an email. The dog will now go live with DiBlasi.