By Langley Cornwell
If you ask just about any dog owner, they will tell you that their pup is their constant companion and best friend. They will happily list all of the many reasons that this is so. Some folks may go so far as to tell you why their pup is a better friend than most humans. What you may not hear is the story of how their pet sacrificed his life for theirs. It’s not that most dogs wouldn’t do this, it’s just that most pets will never find themselves in such a position.
While the K9 named Jethro wasn’t a pet so much as a partner, he did sacrifice his life for his partner, and as he did his duty as a police officer.
Scene of the Crime
On January 9th, 2016 an alarm broke the peacefulness of the night in Canton, Ohio. A local grocery store was being burglarized, and the alarm had been tripped. Soon, a call was made to the local police department to notify them that the alarm was going off. One of the policemen who responded was Officer Ryan Davis and his trusty and beloved canine partner, Jethro. Though well-trained, always knowing that anything could happen, and trying to be prepared for just that, there was no way Officer Davis and Jethro could expect the chain of events that followed.
Rather than trying to negotiate or make a quick getaway, burglary suspect Kelonte Barefield chose to open fire on the police officers. Though the officers who were present returned fire, they weren’t able to completely avoid getting hit. Jethro suffered the worst of the damage.
With wounds to his shoulder, neck and face, Jethro was rushed to emergency care. The suspect suffered one bullet wound to the leg, while Jethro fought for his life. As painful as it was to watch, Officer Davis stayed by his partner’s side the entire time. He tried to keep him calm and encouraged his partner to rest so he could get better, all the while refusing to accept what the doctors would soon say. Those words, the ones that told Officer Davis that his partner might not make it, are the words no loved one ever wants to hear.
When the medical staff realized that Jethro simply wasn’t prepared to lie down and rest, they made the choice to sedate him so that his mind and body could begin the process of healing. Afterwards, they finally had to say “There’s nothing more we can do” while his partner sat lovingly by his side. There he remained until Jethro slipped quietly to the other side by the next morning.
Jethro’s funeral was much like that of any other police officer in that hundreds of officers came out to show their respect. There were just two key differences. It was held on the day that Jethro would have turned just three years old, and it included more than 100 K9s who would willingly sacrifice their own lives for partners who feel exactly the same way about them.
The Bright Side
Jethro isn’t the first police dog to sacrifice his life in the line of duty, but the public has decided that K9 police officers shouldn’t face so much risk. Following Jethro’s death, there was a call for donations for bullet proof vests for police dogs, and a new petition was started. The petition urges lawmakers to charge suspects with shooting a police officer rather than the charge that Barefield is facing, which is shooting a police dog and felonious assault on a police officer.
Pet owners may not realize the extent of the love their pet has for them. Today, at least one police officer knows exactly how far his partner would go for him. Jethro made the ultimate sacrifice and one can only hope that proper value will be placed on the lives of police dogs like him.
Read more articles by Langley Cornwell