Sacto 9-1-1
December 6, 2012
Sacramento police officer goes 'above and beyond' in helping blind man

alford.JPGIt certainly wasn't a routine call for the Sacramento Police Department. But it was one that earned Officer Maryna Stanionis the gratitude of one Sacramento resident in need of some help.

Last week, 3-year-veteran Stanionis was dispatched to a call of a man needing help finding his dog - not a priority call by any stretch, but it was a slow day, so Stanionis headed to 25th Avenue in Oak Park to check it out.

"I was like, 'Well, that's a new one,'" she said in a later interview.

There, she met 54-year-old Brad Alford, a blind man who was concerned about his two dogs - one of them his retired guide dog - who had gone missing.

Alford said he had let the dogs out to go to the bathroom but grew worried when they did not respond to his calls to come back inside. It was the afternoon of Nov. 28, a stormy day in the Sacramento region, and he knew the storm had knocked down one of his fences.

Alford said he was concerned the dogs - Ving the black Labrador and Pug the, well, pug - had gotten out of the yard. Ving, he said, is very well-trained, so it was particularly alarming that he did not respond to his owner's calls.

It didn't take long for Stanionis to find the mutts. Pug, who apparently doesn't mind his owner so well, was found safe and returned to the house. But Ving, 10 years old, was found lying in the rain, unable to get up.

"His little eyebrows had turned white, he was so old," Stanionis said. "His hips completely locked up so he couldn't get up."

Efforts to coax him up didn't work, so Stanionis eventually hoisted the dog up and carried him inside. She said she laid him down next to a heater to "thaw his hips out."

Alford said Ving is now on medication to help out his arthritis and is moving around with much more ease. But he hasn't forgotten about the officer's kindness: He called Stanionis' supervisor to compliment for her kindness and professionalism.

"She went above and beyond the call of duty for something that wasn't really a police matter," Alford said. He added later: "I don't think most officers would have been as sensitive as she was, either."

Stanionis - a Tennessee native who had been laid off and then rehired twice by the Police Department because of budget troubles - said it was an odd call, but that she was happy to help.

"No, I didn't come to California from ... Tennessee to pick up 100-pound dogs," she said, "but this is my dream job and I'm happy to be here."

Photo caption: Sacramento resident Brad Alford, who is blind, enjoying a recent barbecue with his dogs Ving, a black Labrador and retired guide dog, and Pug. Photo by Tom Harmon.

Call The Bee's Kim Minugh, (916) 321-1038. Follow her on Twitter @Kim_Minugh.

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