KU Alumnus and US Secret Service Dog to be awarded ‘Animal OBE’ by British charity

KUTZTOWN, Pa. – United States Secret Service dog, Hurricane, and canine handler officer Marshall Mirarchi ’05, a Kutztown University alumnus, will be honored with the PDSA 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 (OBE),” Hurricane is the first non-British animal to receive the honor. Hurricane will formally receive his Medal from PDSA in October, during a special ceremony at the House of Lords in London.

Hurricane was trained as part of the U.S. Secret Service Emergency Response Team as a Special Operations Canine. He provided specialist protection to the White House and its grounds. Officer Mirarchi and Hurricane were on duty at the White House Oct. 22, 2014, when a man unexpectedly vaulted the White House fence and sprinted across the lawn toward the residence of President Obama and his family. After an initial attempt to stop the man by another canine team was unsuccessful, Officer 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. I have never witnessed such violence toward a dog before but it didn’t stop him from doing his job,” Mirarchi said.

Video of Hurricane’s heroic service is available online from 2014 news coverage. Photos and more coverage of Hurricane and Officer Mirarchi can be found online at Fox News, The Washington Post and the PDSA website.

Hurricane’s heroic actions that night thwarted a serious security breach. He stood between an aggressive intruder and the United States President, who was at home with his family. Hurricane retired on health grounds in September 2016. Officer Mirarchi believes Hurricane’s dedication on the White House lawn that night contributed to his physical issues.

Thomas Sullivan, chief of the Secret Service Uniformed Division, said, “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. 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.