Deputy Amanda Illuzzi is a tough cop with a heart of gold. The K9 officer for the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office in Papillion, Nebraska, loves animals just as much as she loves stopping bad guys.
While the latter is how she earns her paycheck, the former is just as important. On June 5, it was her love of animals that was needed most to best serve the community.
Illuzzi was driving on a busy roadway when the car ahead stopped abruptly and started backing up.
Initially, Illuzzi suspected the driver might be having car trouble. She flipped on her emergency lights and anticipated helping a disabled vehicle get back on the road.
But as she got out of her car and met the driver on the roadway, she realized it was something far more urgent, and adorable, than a broken-down car.
A 5-week-old owl had been roaming around the roadway. The bird was in immediate danger, and if the driver in front of Illuzzi hadn’t spotted it, the consequences could have been dire.
“This guy was out wandering,” Illuzzi said to the Omaha World-Herald.
Illuzzi put on thick gloves she had in her cruiser and handled the owl with care.
“A K9 deputy’s day is never dull!” the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook. “While on her way to lunch, from training, Dep. Illuzzi found this little guy on his own, in a very urban area, and unable to fly.”
Illuzzi waited with the newly-born owl in her cruiser for the Nebraska Humane Society staff to arrive. The owl was then taken to Fontenelle Forest Raptor Recovery.
She didn’t hesitate to pass the owl off to the proper authorities, though she did admit it was tough to say goodbye.
“He’s so stinkin’ cute,” she said. “I wish I could have kept him.”
The Fontenelle Forest is a wildlife sanctuary, and they are best equipped to give the little guy the specialized care and attention he needs.
The owl was in good shape, and there are plans to re-release him into the wild in June.
Experts said the owl is still in the beginning phases of learning how to fly. He can fly well enough to get out of his nest, but not enough to keep himself in the air for long periods of time.
It is not unusual for baby owls to resort to walking if they are having trouble getting themselves airborne.
The Fontenelle Forest gave the little guy a once-over, and determined that he’s fit and perfectly capable of surviving in the wild. They intend to release him into the wild later this month, and will let Illuzzi do the honors.