Police officers from all over the East Coast gathered at the Canton Memorial Civic Center last week to pay their respects and mourn the loss of one of their own. K9 Officer Jethro was laid to rest on what would have been his third birthday.
But Jethro was far more than just a police dog. He was the trusted partner of Ryan Davis and the beloved pet of the entire Davis family. From the time he was 8-weeks-old, Jethro spent his days serving as Officer Davis’ backup, and his evenings playing the role of family dog to Ryans’ two young daughters. When asked by CBS News to describe Jethro, Davis replied:
The one word that comes to mind is unconditional. He was unconditionally loyal, loving, supportive … he was a hero.
Together, Officer Davis and Jethro responded to an alarm at a grocery store early on the morning of January 9. A burglary was in progress, and Jethro was shot three times in the resulting confrontation. One bullet struck his muzzle, but did not penetrate his head. The other shots wounded Jethro’s shoulder and neck. Officer Davis radioed in for backup shouting:
Shots fired! Shots fired! My partner’s been shot!
The suspect in the burglary took a bullet to the ankle during the struggle and was apprehended soon after. He is being held on $5 million bond.
Jethro was taken to the Stark County Veterinary Emergency Clinic for treatment. Updates posted to the Police K9 Association Facebook Page were guardedly optimistic throughout the first night. One post reported that Jethro had sustained “nasty head trauma” despite the shot failing to penetrating his skull. The vet compared the damage to “getting hit in the forehead with a hammer.”
The K9 Association Facebook page thanked supporters for their thoughts and prayers early the following morning. One post reported that Jethro’s partner, handler and best friend, Officer Davis, had stayed vigilantly at the clinic all night, forgoing sleep. Sadly, the next post reported the tragic news of Jethro’s passing.
It is with heavy hearts that we must tell you all that we lost Jethro. He took a sudden turn for the worse and has passed.
Police officers lined up outside the clinic to salute Jethro as his body was removed, draped in an American flag. A video of this moving tribute can be viewed here. The Canton Police Department issued the following statement via their Facebook page:
We at the Canton Police Department want to thank all of you for your support over the last couple of days. Your prayers and well wishes have meant so much.
In honor of Jethro’s life and service, a blogger established a Go Fund Me page to raise money for police dog flak vests. As of January 18, the total raised was at $36,230 – nearly four times the original goal amount of $10,000. The generous donations and outpouring of support from the community and the entire country are proof of the respect K9 Officer Jethro earned in his short time on Earth.
Officer Davis has returned to duty with a heavy heart. He emotionally revisited the scene of the tragedy with CBS News. This heartrending video depicts Davis as he recounts his story. He told CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman:
I would trade places with him in a heartbeat. Absolutely, because I wouldn’t have to sit here and suffer over the loss of him…He’s left a hole that will never be filled. He gave his life for me.
The Canton Police are accepting donations to cover the costs of Jethro’s veterinary care and final services.
Canton Police Department
Attn: K9 Unit
221 3rd St SW
Canton OH 44702
H/T to The Guardian, wkyc.com, CBS News
Featured Image via Police K9 Association/ Facebook