Family donates dog after police K-9 Brunie passes

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KANSAS CITY -- A new K-9 officer joined the ranks of police Friday, thanks to a donation from a family moved by the death of a police dog in September.

When "Brunie" died in the line of duty, police received many sympathy cards from dog lovers across the nation.

The Belgian Malinois became sick while in the woods while tracking a suspect in the city of Belton, Mo. Police believe that while pursuing a suspect, Brunie came into contact with something poisonous. The dog was euthanized eight days after he became ill.

The DePaco family from New Jersey gave police a replacement dog that they hope will serve the department just as well as Brunie did.

"It is our utmost honor to not replace Brunie, but at least allow the officer to get back on the street, have a new partner and keep everything and everyone safe," said Deanna DePaco. "We are very excited and very happy to have assisted with this wonderful Kansas City Missouri Police Department."

Rico is the new police dog, also a Belgian Malinois. He completed his police training on Friday and is certified to begin patrol with handler Jason Brungardt.

Brunie served with Kansas City police for two years. The National Police Canine Association honored Brunie in 2013 as canine officer of the year.