Wed | Sep 26, 2018

Police dogs laid to rest in their own cemetery in California

Published:Thursday | March 12, 2015 | 12:00 AM
This file photo showing the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office, sheriff’s deputies hold their first K-9 memorial ceremony for K-9 Jake, behind the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office in San Luis Obispo, California.


It's a place of honour for those who sniffed out crime and brought down crooks. On a bluff beneath tall oak trees and overlooking rolling green hills, police dogs from one California agency are laid to rest.

The cemetery for K-9s from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department, which serves an area about 200 miles south of Los Angeles, is a unique option. Among US law-enforcement agencies, it's more common for dogs to be buried or their ashes scattered on the handler's property, in a pet cemetery or at the centre that trained them.

No matter where they end up, dogs killed on the job usually can expect a funeral similar to a slain officer's, said Russ Hess, national executive director of the United States Police Canine Association.


Regular funeral


That means a crowded service with eulogies, a colour guard and the playing of taps.

But "there is no right or wrong way to bury a K-9," said Hess, who retired as police chief of Jackson Township, Ohio, to become head of the 3,000-member association that certifies K-9 teams.

Hess said he doesn't know of any other law-enforcement agency with a police dog cemetery on their grounds. Some training academies have graveyards, while cities often honour fallen K-9s in other ways, by naming parks for them or putting up statues or plaques.

In the California department, K-9 funerals didn't receive full law-enforcement honours until the cemetery opened in March 2013.

"It was something that needed to happen," Commander Aaron Nix said. "The K-9s are deputies."

He said the dogs "are members of our patrol force, and this was our way of rectifying that".