Plymouth Police officers salute K9 dog Kaiser before he was euthanized on Friday.
The photo shows the police dog, ears dropped and tail tucked, walking hunched behind his handler during his final moments. On either side, officers stand at salute.
This image of a hero’s sendoff for Kaiser the German shepherd, minutes before he was euthanized Friday, has spread throughout the world, drawing praise, cheers and tears.
Kaiser joined the force in 2011 when he was donated by a family.
His handler, Officer James Lebretton posted a statement on Facebook on Wednesday that said, “It is with deep regret and sorrow that I announce the retirement of my partner K-9 Kaiser. Kaiser was recently diagnosed with severe kidney disease/failure leaving his health to decline rapidly.”
Plymouth Police dog Kaiser was euthanized due to illness on Friday.
Officer’s honored Kaiser at the Court Street Animal Hospital and again at the Angel View Pet Cemetery in Middleboro on Friday.
The photo of the officer’s salute to Kaiser went viral on Friday. The photo was posted on the social media website Reddit and was picked up by news outlets all over the world from England and Norway to North Carolina and Ohio, sparking support from all over the country.
Radio personality Jare from Kiss 107 in Cincinnati posted the story on his blog saying, “I saw this story over the weekend and I won’t lie – I really teared up over it.”
Lebretton responded to the support on Facebook Friday saying:
“To my boys and blue. Never in my career have I ever been so proud. You out did yourselves today. I could not have asked for a better send off.”
“Lastly, to all of you who sent your regards over the past few days…I thank you. I read every single post and listened to every message. Kaiser served you well and the streets of Plymouth were safer when he was on patrol. The compassion was overwhelming and I am humbled at the support from perfect strangers.”
Brockton Police had a similar ceremony for long-time department K9, Gomo, who died in December 2011 from cancer.
Gomo’s handler, Officer Darvin Anderson, led a ceremony in honor of his partner by cracking a whip as dozens of dogs barked. The emotional ceremony was concluded by officers saluting Gomo before he was cremated.
Posterframe for video Police, area residents attend funeral for police dog Gomo
“I’m sad but at the same, I’m very proud of him,” said Anderson at the time.
Many people visited Gomo’s funeral and grave, also in Middleboro, to honor the dog.
Kaiser’s partner Lebretton shared his final message on Facebook Friday:
“RIP my boy. I could not have asked for a better partner or friend. May you rest easy and wait for me at that sacred bridge. I will be there my friend. I will be there. I will never forget you or our accomplishments. You made me a better person, a better handler, and a better cop. Till we meet again, Kai. I love you and will miss you daily.”
Gomo, a 12-year-old police dog who will soon be retiring, at the police station in Brockton with his handler, Officer Darvin Anderson, on Wednesday, November 23, 2011.
By Erin Shannon
Enterprise Staff Writer
Posted Jun 01, 2013 @ 07:53 PM