Kutztown graduate and Secret Service K-9 to receive British medal
Secret Service K-9, Hurricane, and handler Officer Marshall Mirarchi, a 2005 Kutztown University graduate, will be honored with the The People’s Dispensary For Sick Animals Order of Merit medal by the United Kingdom’s leading veterinary charity, PDSA, for Hurricane’s outstanding devotion to duty.
Known also as the “Animal Royal Order of the British Empire,” Hurricane is the first non-British animal to receive the honor.
Hurricane, who was trained as part of the U.S. Secret Service Emergency Response Team as a Special Operations Canine, will formally receive his medal from PDSA this month, during a special ceremony at the House of Lords in London.
He provided specialist protection to the White House and its grounds.
Mirarchi and Hurricane were on duty at the White House on Oct. 22, 2014, when a man unexpectedly vaulted the White House fence and sprinted across the lawn toward the residence of President Barack Obama and his family.
After an initial attempt to stop the man by another canine team was unsuccessful, Mirarchi gave the command and Hurricane flew into action.
“That night, he stepped up and delivered under circumstances that no amount of training could prepare him for,” Mirarchi said.
“I have never witnessed such violence toward a dog before, but it didn’t stop him from doing his job.”
Hurricane’s heroic actions that night thwarted a serious security breach.
He stood between an aggressive intruder and the president, who was at home with his family.
Hurricane retired on health grounds in September 2016.
Mirarchi says Hurricane’s dedication on the White House lawn that night contributed to his physical issues.
“The Secret Service Uniformed Division canine program is, without a doubt, one of the best in the world, and Officer Mirarchi and Hurricane executed their mission flawlessly,” Thomas Sullivan, chief of the Secret Service Uniformed Division said. “The entire Secret Service is proud of Officer Mirarchi and Hurricane, and all the men and women and canines that do that job every day.”
Hurricane is the first foreign animal to receive the award, which was instituted in 2014 and bestowed on just 30 other recipients.
Through the award, PDSA tries to raise the status of animals in society and honor their contributions to human life.