- December 26, 2019
Officer Eric Tomlinson answered a routine call on Feb. 4 like any other.
The response his work drew, though, was like hardly anything he’s experienced before.
It all started with a manic Monday, an open door, a call to police about a suspicious circumstance and Leo, a Pomeranian who hadn’t even spent two weeks with his new humans, Daniel and Tracey Gonzalez, who live not far from Ed Smith Stadium.
“He went above and beyond just the basic line of duty,” Gonzalez said of Tomlinson. “It really impressed me, and made us feel like he cared. I don’t know if he has dogs, but he put himself in the victim’s shoes and treated me how he would want to be treated.”
A call to police dispatchers came in that morning, saying something odd was happening at a neighbor’s home — their front door was wide open.
At the roughly the same moment, Gonzalez came out of his bedroom ready to leave for work to discover his front door had been left open, and Leo was nowhere to be found.
Gonzalez spent a few minutes looking for and worrying about Leo while cutting his arrival time at work closer and closer.
Finally, he gave up, called animal control to report Leo missing and headed out to open his office for the new work week.
Not long later, Tomlinson arrived to the empty house and found the door had already been secured by a neighbor.
Leo had also been found safe by a neighbor, who put the little dog in the home’s fenced backyard for safekeeping.
But moments after, Leo was on the run again after escaping from the yard — all in the span of a few moments.
It’s what Tomlinson did after learning these new developing facts of this run-of-the-mill call that earned him the gratitude of the Gonzalezes.
Making sure the house really was secure first, the officer started searching for Leo in the neighborhood.
“It all happened so fast,” said Gonzalez. “I think (Leo) was just scared. He didn’t know where he was. We only had him for nine days!”
Tomlinson found Leo in another yard not far away.
Gonzalez got a call from a neighbor about the whole event and came home to make sure Leo was safe.
Gonzalez arrived home after opening his office to find his neighbors, a police officer and Leo waiting on the front lawn.
“We help out people every day,” said Tomlinson. “Even the bad calls make me want to keep being a policeman. I’m thankful that (the Gonzalezes) appreciated it. I’m happy the dog made it home.”
To hear Gonzalez tell it, Leo’s not just any dog.
Gonzalez and his wife, Tracey, had found Leo after connecting with a family in Venice through a Pomeranian rescue website on Jan. 25.
They’d been looking for a suitable dog since having to euthanize their two Pomeranians four years ago.
Adding to the Gonzalezes’ connection to Leo: he came to the Venice family via Bloomington, Ind., where Daniel went to college. He said it was a sign Leo was meant to be theirs, which made losing him, losing him again and finding him all the more poignant.
Gonzalez said at the time, he was a little overwhelmed, but the service that Tomlinson provided by making sure everything was OK and double checking all of the information with him really stood out.
“I thanked him at the time, but I wanted to make sure he knew that it meant something to us,” Gonzalez said.
“I think it’s too often police officers don’t get recognized for their work they do.”
A note Gonzalez wrote to the Sarasota Police Department detailed the event and the thanks the Gonzalezes had for Tomlinson.
“I’m definitely going to be more careful with Leo,” said Gonzalez. “He’s just so fast, but he’s the best dog.”