“Receiving this award is bittersweet,” Officer Ryan Davis of the Canton, Ohio Police Department said on Saturday when he accepted the Medal of Valor on behalf of his fallen K-9 partner, Jethro. “It is an honor that I’d rather not have. I would rather have him here with us today. But we want to celebrate his service, dedication and everything that he meant to us as an officer, friend and family member.” Jethro, was killed in the line of duty in January and the medal was presented to Officer Davis from the Boardwalk Kennel Club of Cape May County and the American Kennel Club. The recognition took place during Boardwalk Kennel Club’s All Breed Atlantic Ocean Classic Dog Show.
“Jethro was more than a partner, he was a family member. My kids grew up with him. We had him since he was a puppy. It has been a whirlwind experience over the past few months,” Officer Davis shared.
Susan Shomo of the Boardwalk Kennel Club said, “Sadly, Jethro is not the first K-9 that we’ve honored who was killed in the line of duty. There’s been at least four or five previous ones. Hopefully he’s the last, it’s just a tragic, awful thing that happened.”
K-9 officers who receive an Outstanding Service Award from the Club are chosen based on their K-9 service records, arrests and other criteria. “They are so deserving of any praise they receive, both the handlers and the K-9s,” Shomo said during the award presentation. “We are just so thankful for everything that they do.”
Officer Davis said, “Tuko has been great, he’s still in training and we have work to do but he’s really coming along.”
In addition to the ceremony remembering Jethro, six other K-9 officers were honored with Outstanding Service awards, including:
- K-9 Rrx of the Washington Township Police Department, NJ, handled by Officer Jason Sims; retired in December 2015
- K-9 Aron of the Deptford Township Police Department, NJ, handled by Officer Adam Ziegler; retired in 2013 and passed away in October 2015
- K-9 Axel of the Washington Township Police Department, NJ, handled by Officer Jeffrey Kalber; retired in January 2015
- K-9 Ben of the Salem County Sherriff’s Office, NJ, handled by Sargent Rob Hans, retired in February 2015 and passed away shortly thereafter
- K-9 Bento of the Glassboro Police Department, NJ, handled by Sargent Ryan Knight, retired in July 2015 and passed away August 2015
- K-9 Brix of the of the Washington Township Police Department, NJ, handled by Officer Kevin Convery , retired in November 2015
Tuko, and all of the dogs honored at the ceremony, received beds donated by Big Barker.
“We’re thrilled to be involved with this event, and to be able to provide beds for these incredibly hard-working dogs,” Big Barker President, Eric Shannon, said. “Police K-9s are generally larger dogs carrying a high risk of joint ailments including hip dysplasia, arthritis and general joint pain. We want all dogs to have access to a bed that allows them to rest comfortably and lead healthy, happy lives.”
Joe Nick, who works with, trains and rescues K-9s and who ran a K-9 demonstration at the event said, “These guys [K-9 handlers] are so dedicated to what they do, I think it’s incredible. The bonds that they have with these dogs shows when you spend any amount of time with them, and that’s necessary for them to work together at the level that they do. It’s so important to have the highest level of obedience and trust in the dog, they are in high-danger, real-world situations, and that’s where all of the training is important.”
The 11 K-9 officers that participated in the demonstration also received orthopedic Big Barker beds.