More than 1,000 people attended the funeral of Kye, a 3-year-old Belgian German shepherd police dog that was killed in the line of duty in August, as the pup was laid to rest in a ceremony with full police honors.
Kye was the partner of Sgt. Ryan Stark, as The Huffington Post notes, and had worked with Stark for nearly two years. The canine cop was a member of the Oklahoma City Police Department, and the Department’s Facebook announcement of his death in August drew more than 3,500 shares and 7,000 likes.
Kye’s funeral was held at First Southern Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, and the Police Department opened up the ceremony for the public to attend. Organizers were stunned by the outpouring of support from the community, as more than 1,000 people came to pay their respects.
Kye received full police honors, including a 21-gun salute. All a testament to the canine cop’s bravery.
Kye was killed on August 24 as he and Stark attempted to apprehend 22-year-old Mark Salazar. Salazar was suspected of having stolen a car. After he crashed that vehicle, Salazar led police on a chase for 30 minutes.
Kye was the first to catch up to Salazar, reaching him before Stark could get to him. Salazar repeatedly stabbed the dog, mortally wounding her. Stark arrived on the scene and shot and killed Salazar. Stark has been placed on administrative leave while the department investigates the shooting.
“Without question, Kye’s sacrifice saved the life of one of the officers,” Sgt. Coy Gilbery said during Kye’s eulogy. “We will forever remain in your debt.”
A memorial video for the pup has gotten more than 50,000 views, and the Facebook page announcing Kye’s death and funeral has become something of a makeshift memorial where the public share their condolences.
Police dogs not only form considerable bonds with their handlers, but — as seen in Kye’s case — they often become a fixture within their communities. Police officers from around the state of Oklahoma brought their own pups, both K-9 cops and personal pets, to Kye’s funeral in order to pay their respects.
OKCPD and many others pay their final respects to K9 Officer Kye. We thank you for your loyal and dedicated service. pic.twitter.com/6mU9GeSbfh
— City of OKC (@cityofokc) August 28, 2014
Memorial services for K-9 cops aren’t too rare nowadays, either. When a Florida police dog was struck by lightning in August — just days after Kye was killed, in fact — the police department there organized a memorial for the pooch as well. That canine cop, named Argo, had earned four national awards and assisted in the seizure of $25,000 in illicit narcotics.