The American Kennel Club has announced a new award to honor the animals who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.
Four police dogs will receive the first “AKC Paw of Courage” medals. Each of these honored canines are police dogs who lost their lives on the job over the past year.
“These working dogs possess great courage and dedication,” said AKC Vice President Gina DiNardo in a statement. “They continuously put their lives on the line, and have sacrificed their own safety, well-being, and in some cases even their lives, to keep us safe.”
This year’s recipients include:
K9 Officer Ogar from the Smith County Constable’s Office in Texas
The 1-year-old Belgian Malinois was shot and killed while attempting to apprehend a suspect. Ogar’s human partner, Deputy Constable Petty, believes that K9’s actions saved his life. When Ogar wasn’t working he loved to hang out by the pool, get attention and play with kids.
K9 Officer Jag from the Twin Rivers Unified School District Police Department in California
The Belgian Malinois worked with the department for five years. During his state certification he was fatally struck by a vehicle. In his career, the 8-year-old dog conducted numerous successful narcotic searches and was a major part of the school district’s outreach program, positively affecting the lives of countless teachers and students.
K9 Officer Betcha from the Rutland County Sheriff’s Office in Vermont
This two-year-old Australian cattle dog was also fatally struck by a car while on the job.
“He was my fourth K9 partner but my first dog that I can say was my therapy,” says his handler, Deputy Sheriff Edward Hunter of Betcha.
When the energetic and loving pup wasn’t at work he loved to play Frisbee and go for drives.
K9 Officer Krijger from the Norfolk Police Department in Virginia
The 4-year-old Belgian Malinois was shot and killed during a domestic violence call that included the husband taking his wife hostage and opening fire on officers.
“Krijger taught me many things about courage, honor, loyalty and friendship,” his partner Officer McNiff said.
The “AKC Paw of Courage” award is open to any working dog who was severely injured or killed serving this country. All breeds are welcome, the award is not restricted to purebred canines.