ST. GEORGE – Hunter, Washington City Police’s first K-9 officer, has died, according to a statement from the Police Department Monday.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share with you the passing of our first K-9, Hunter,” the Police Department posted on its Facebook page Monday morning.
Hunter joined the Washington City Police Department in 2011 and retired in 2016. During that time he served as a narcotics dog while also being involved in suspect apprehensions.
Hunter, Washington City Police Chief Jim Keith said at the time, made a significant impact on the drug trade in the community and had been a valuable member of the team since day one.
“This is just one indication of the value of a K-9,” Keith said. “A human being cannot do the same thing that a K-9 can do.”
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Following retirement in 2016, Hunter stayed with his handler and eventually developed an age-related illness before dying, the Department Police wrote.
“Rest easy Hunter, you will be sorely missed, and your service and influence will never be forgotten,” the police wrote.
Washington City Police is not without a K-9 officer, as Tank, a German Shepherd, was donated to the Police Department by the nonprofit group Havoc K9 in 2016.
Police K-9s are considered to be invaluable partners in police work and are highly valued by their handlers and respective police departments.
During the 2018 legislative session, police officers testified before lawmakers that the relationship between K-9 officers and their handlers is close. It is not uncommon for a handlers to spend more time with their K-9 partner than their own families, they said.
The testimonies were related to a bill that would make intentionally killing a police dog a second-degree felony with a potential prison term of up to 15 years.
The legislature passed the bill in February and it was signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert last week.
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