State trooper rescues little girl’s dog

If it weren’t for the efforts of Michigan State Trooper Randy Gariglio, 9-year-old Michigan girl Lindsey Hamm would never have been able to hug her best friend Diva again.

Diva, a 1-year-old PekingeseCorgi mix, and the Hamm’s other dog, Jack Russell Terrier Milo, 7, went missing from the family’s home Sunday evening while no one was home. When the family returned home around 7 p.m. that night, they arrived to find their front door wide open and their beloved dogs long gone.

“The wind blew the door open,” Lindsey’s mother, Rachelle Hamm, believes.

The family immediately took to the streets of their Ionia, Michigan neighborhood, looking for any sign of Diva and Milo. Not long after initiating the search, the Hamms located Milo at their neighbor’s home two doors away; Diva was nowhere in sight.

“When they were not together, we were really concerned,” Rachelle explains.

After bringing Milo home, Rachelle, her husband, Rick and little Lindsey wondered what to do next. Where could Diva have run off to, and how would they bring her home again? Lindsey and her parents continued searching for Diva late into the night, but by 10 p.m. it had gotten too dark outside to see. They called it a night, but vowed to continue the rescue mission the next morning. Lindsey was devastated, and barely slept a wink that night.

“I cried a lot,” she says. “I went to school, but I couldn’t really concentrate, because I was concerned about my dog.”

Meanwhile, Rachelle and Rick Hamm took to Facebook, hoping to spread the word about Diva’s disappearance. Rick also contacted his friend Gordie Douglas, an animal control officer in the town of Ionia, to report Diva missing. The Hamms were determined to bring Diva back home where she belongs.

Around 10 a.m. Monday morning, Officer Randy Gariglio of the Michigan State Police was out on his regular patrol in Ionia when he spotted a small beige and white dog dart across Riverside Drive.

“A car had just gone by this small dog, and I was worried about it getting hit,” Gariglio remembers in an interview with the Sentinal-Standard of Ionia. “She seemed scared and lost.”

Gariglio pulled his squad car off to the side of the road and stepped out of the vehicle. Diva, startled, bolted beneath the trooper’s car. After some gentle coaxing, Gariglio was able to scoop up the Peke-Corgi mix and place her safely in the back seat. Once inside, Gariglio was amused to see the little dog propping herself up enough so she could easily gaze out of the window while Gariglio drove around.

Hoping the dog’s family had already contacted the local shelter, Officer Gariglio knew it would be the most common sense place to bring the dog he’d rescued.

“I hated to bring her to the shelter, but I knew that was her best bet,” the 14-year Michigan State Police veteran says.

Luckily, manning the shelter that morning was Rick Hamm’s friend, Officer Gordie Douglas. Officer Douglas recognized the pint-sized Peke-Corgi right away, and put a call out to the Hamm family to let them know their Diva had been found. Rachelle raced to the shelter immediately to claim Diva, then drove straight to Lindsey’s school to break the happy news to her daughter. Lindsey was thrilled when she saw the familiar face of her four-legged friend.

Diva had made it through her overnight ordeal relatively unscathed, though she did have a few injuries. An examination by Diva’s veterinarian revealed two puncture wounds in her neck and a burst blood vessel in her eye, but the pup is expected to make a full recovery.

Soon after Diva’s rescue, Lindsey asked to meet the hero trooper who’d taken a moment out of his day to help Diva find her way home. When she met Officer Gariglio at the Michigan State Police Ionia Detachment, Lindsey gave him a hug, thanking him for his kind deed.

But for Gariglio, stopping to help a dog in need is a part of the job he enjoys. Officer Gariglio has always had a soft spot for animals, especially ones of the canine variety. When he saw Diva that morning, he knew he had to step in.

“I grew up with dogs, and any time I see one out, I worry,” he says.