(KYMA, KECY/ CBS) - Police officers from across the country gathered at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C., Wednesday (5/11) to honor 75 fallen police K9s who gave their lives in the line of duty.
Police Officer Bill Cushing from the Braintree Police Department in Massachusetts lost K9 Kitt after 11 years together. "He was my canine partner, did everything together," Officer Cushing said. It was 2021 when Cushing, another officer, and veteran K9 Kitt were ambushed and shot at the scene of a domestic dispute. The officers survived, Kitt did not. "Without Kitt that day, for sure you would have a couple dead cops that day. Without him, the outcome would have been a lot different I'll tell you that," Officer Cushing said.
Officers say the special bond between handler and K9 runs deep. "My partner's name was Jas. He meant the world to me," said Officer Jon Lindsey with the Savannah Police Department. Officer Lindsey lost K9 Jas when their vehicle rolled while responding to a call. "I was able to get into the rear of my car and embrace him one last time before he let go, and I like to think he did that for a slight amount of closure."
Officer Lindsey and the other K9 handlers at the ceremony had different stories to tell, but they all had the same message: K9s play an invaluable role in keeping people safe.
The National Police Dog Foundation established the K9 Memorial Fund in 2018. Money collected helps replace fallen and aging K9s and train new ones.