K9 Jethro left big paw prints to fill. On Sunday, January 24, Canton Ohio Police Officer Ryan Davis flew to Houston to the training center of K9s4Cops, to meet some dogs.
Jethro, a German shepherd, had been shot while trying to stop a robbery. Jethro had been hit in the face, shoulder, and neck. While the whole community hoped and prayed, Jethro fought to stay alive, but the injuries proved to be too much for him. He died the following day.
News of Jethro’s death spread rapidly across the nation. People all over the country, and indeed the world, mourned along with Davis. Flags flew at half mast. Jethro was given a hero’s funeral. Hundreds attended the very emotional memorial service. Over 100 police dogs walked in procession with their handlers.
Davis tried to explain the magnitude of his loss.
“There is no doubt in my mind that I am here because of what he did. I still call his name.”
Upon learning of this loss to the community, and especially to Davis, K9s4Cops founder Kristi Schiller reached out to the department. Schiller has a good understanding of how much a police dog is valued.
“These brave dogs are not only partners, they are truly family members. An officer and their K9 partner spend more time together than any other typical relationship in law enforcement. K9 Jethro gave his life for his handler without hesitation. There are no words that can truly describe the depth of loyalty in which these dogs will go to protect the ones they love.”
K9s4Cops is a nonprofit organization founded for situations exactly like this.
Most departments have trouble budgeting a K9. Each dog costs anywhere between $10,000 and $15,000. The expense is due to the months of training required for each dog. This was brought to light again recently in another Ohio community, when a handler retired, but the dog didn’t. According to Ohio state regulations, the dog had to be placed up for auction, at a starting cost of $3,500. It seems like a lot. But among police dogs, that’s a bargain.
While a police department has to weigh priorities when it comes to the cost of a K9 unit, most of them can come up with the daily living expenses: Veterinary care, transportation, food, and of course, tennis balls.
This is where K9s4Cops comes in. They don’t believe the initial high cost of a dog should prevent the establishment of a working K9 unit. Their goal is, as stated, “To ensure that K9 cost never keeps an Officer from having their K9 partner.”
In a bittersweet visit to the Houston training center, Officer Davis put some of the trained dogs through their paces. He was able to narrow it down to three candidates including two Belgian Malinois and a dark sable German shepherd named Tuko. He finally elected to go with hard-working, hard-biting young Tuko.
“The bond was there,” he said.
The new team will begin 14 weeks of training with the Canton Police Department next month.
When asked how people can help K9s4COPs, Schiller explained why the organization is so important.
“People can help out by spreading the word about what K9s4COPs does, and donate whatever they can. Any amount helps.”
Here are some ways that you can help:
[Image via Shutterstock]