Dozens of officers sat in respect on Tuesday afternoon, some nibbling on chewy treats, others calmly heeled beside their human partners, to observe a moment of silence for their fellow police dogs that have fallen in the line of duty since 1974.
Officers from all over the state, representing both human and canine, gathered alongside veterinary students and friends and family of all ages at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital to rededicate the UC Davis “Faithful Partner” Memorial. The memorial, a bronze statue of a German Shepherd made possible by an anonymous $200,000 donation in 2002, honors 15 police dogs who have died while serving in law enforcement in California.
Angus, an eight and a half year old German Shepherd, was one of many canine officers in attendance, representing the Sacramento Police Department. Panting happily alongside Officer Steve Oliver, his human handler, the two represented the unique bond of officer and partner, as most police dogs are both members of a police unit as well as a family pet.
“At work, Angus is my partner, and at home he’s part of our family,” Oliver said, a Sergeant for the K-9 unit of the Sacramento Police Department. “They really are the best partners – they’re loyal, they don’t complain, and the minute Angus wakes up in the morning he gets excited and starts spinning in circles, and just can’t wait to get to work.“
Zak, a seven-year-old German Sheppard from the Modesto Police Department, was another canine officer in attendance. At the start of the bagpipe solute, Zak celebrated by barking and prancing beside his handler Officer Jessie Gutierrez.
“Our canine officers are one of the oldest and most valuable resources to the police department,” Gutierrez said. “Zak is my extra eyes and ears, and he’s my partner – if we get called, we make sure we take care of business together.“
MICHELLE IMMEL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.