"Judge" the police dog, a terminally ill K-9 officer for West Deptford Township, New Jersey, wasn't "just a dog." He was a brother-in-arms, a fact that became sadly apparent in the photo you see above.
That's a number of Gloucester County law enforcement officers giving the officer his final salute after 280 deployments and the apprehension of 152 suspects. On Friday, Judge was given his "last bite" by partner Michael Franks, a corporal for West Deptford.
The "last bite," according to NJ, involved Franks donning the department's training sleeve one last time and allowing Judge to latch on. If you're wondering what the object hanging out of the police dog's mouth is, there's your answer. Here's a bite in action.Judge suffered from Cushings Disease, an ailment that causes vomiting, bleeding, and hair loss, as it takes the animal's body toward eventual shutdown. It can last for several months, so in case any of you are wondering why the police dog had to be euthanized, it's because every day for Judge was suffering.
"(Judge) had gone under surgery, and was taking medication for the disease, but it quickly deteriorated, unfortunately," said West Deptford Deputy Chief Sean McKenna, from the reception area of the Woolwich animal hospital.
McKenna was one of several officers who joined Franks and Judge as they spent their last moments together in a patient room.
"The doctors gave him several months to live," McKenna added. "He hasn't been up in a few days."
As for the photo, which has been heavily shared since Friday night and on Sunday reached the top of the front page of Reddit, Glassboro Sgt. Dan Eliasen explained.
"It's about showing respect, but also the people who are here wanted to thank Judge for his service to the community," he said.
Eliasen supervises his department's K-9 division.
"No one has forgotten what he's done -- and that includes protecting his partner and his community."
Eliasen also discussed the feeling attached to losing an animal partner.
"We all go through it.... No handler escapes this part of it."
On Reddit, the photo is up to more than 1,400 comments and that's after only four hours of being live on the web.
Most commenters wished Judge well.
"Godspeed, Judge. Thank you for serving us so faithfully. You will be remembered."
"I'm trying so hard to hold it together looking at that picture that it's making my teeth hurt."
"They should all fall in line behind him."
Do you think Judge the police dog and all the others like him deserve to be honored and respected as equals with their human counterparts?