All members of law enforcement are heroes in their own right, but Officer Kareem Garibaldi of the Lakeland Police Department displayed a new level of dedication this week. He didn’t foil a bank robbery or solve a difficult cold case. Instead he became a knight in shining armor to a tiny lost puppy.
Officer Garibaldi was on patrol in a Florida neighborhood Saturday morning when he nearly ran over the pup with his cruiser. He scooped up the Boxer/Pit Bull mix and brought her back to the station with him to keep her safe. By the end of his shift, no one had come forward to claim the pooch, and without a microchip or ID tag, Officer Garibaldi could not track down her owner.
He took it upon himself to care for the lost puppy, bringing her home with him after work. The next day, he resumed his search for an owner. He returned to the neighborhood where she had been found and posted photos to social media sites, but nobody claimed the mystery pup by the time Officer Garibaldi had completed his shift at 7 A.M. Despite his exhaustion after his third 12-hour work day in a row, he refused to give up until he was sure the little orphan was safe.
He delivered her to the SPCA Florida for a wellness exam and promptly fell asleep in the waiting room with his furry companion snoozing at his side. Connie Johnson, the safety net manager, arrived to work that morning and witnessed the heartwarming tableau—big, tough Officer Garibaldi dozing next to the tiny stray puppy. Johnson said:
“He was exhausted, the puppy was exhausted, and they were sleeping. It was one of those moments that just grab your heart. He was so determined to get her help. It clearly was a selfless thing to do. He wasn’t thinking about getting home to sleep. He was thinking about what he could do to help this puppy survive.”
Officer Garibaldi spent 3 hours of his own personal time slipping in and out of sleep as he waited for vets to assess the puppy’s condition. Aside from some mites, she was found to be quite healthy, but the problem still remained—where was the poor little orphan to live?
Connie Johnson snapped the now famous photo of Garibaldi and his companion sleeping in the waiting room. Once it was posted to Twitter it spread rapidly across social media and went viral. Thousands commented on the kindness and generosity of the young officer. The puppy’s new-found internet fame would surely have gotten her adopted in no time, but as it turned out, that wouldn’t be necessary.
Officer Garibaldi returned to the police station with the little stray in tow after her check-up. As puppies often do, the tiny cutie attracted the attention of the officers and staff. One particular dispatcher fell hopelessly in love and committed then and there to adopting the pup—later named Hope.
The Lakeland Police Department posted the following update via their Facebook page expressing their pride and admiration for their colleague’s selfless actions.
Thanks to Officer Garibaldi Hope’s story has a very happy and inspiring ending. He was willing to devote his own time and efforts to rescue an animal that he was under no obligation to help. These simple acts of kindness and generosity are what define a true hero.
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