ALLEGHANY COUNTY – More than just a pet or even a partner, the bond between a police K-9 unit and its handler is something any officer will tell you feels more like family.
Though hundreds of K-9 units in our area dedicate their lives to protecting our community, many are forgotten after they are gone.
One local sheriff's office is working to change that. Cpl. Richard Shull of the Alleghany County Sheriff's office will tell you a K-9 is more than just a man's best friend.
"It’s always having a companion. It’s always having a partner. You know if something is getting ready to happen, he's got your back,” Shull said.
A partner that Shull says changed his career, Uran was Shull's first K-9.
"He was always there. Always ready. Always wanting to go to work. That's the dedication that these dogs have,” Shull said.
They were partners for two years, spending every day both at home and at work together. As impactful as his four-legged partner was, their time was cut short. Losing Uran to heart disease was a major upset.
"He's a part of my family. It was rough," Shull said.
A pain Chief Deputy Matthew Bowser knows hits hard for the handler.
"You probably see the K-9 more than you see your own family," Shull said.
Most recently, the office lost Czacho just last week to cancer. The dog was responsible for dozens of trackings helpful to the department.
While plaques hang across the department to remember officers' achievements and retirements, there isn't anything for their dogs. Bowser wants to change that.
"They've become a part of this agency and dedicated their life to serving their handler and the citizens. We want to do something to honor them," Bowser said.
His goal is the raise $5,000 to build a memorial in front of the police department in Covington. It will honor all K-9s that have served in Allegheny County including the state police department and local police departments.
They've set up a Go Fund Me page hoping to raise the money.
"The K-9s in the office are a forgotten thing once they're gone. This will give something to remind people that hey we have more than people here that serve this community,” Shull said.
A way to remember and to honor an officer’s best partner. To donate to the memorial click here.