At least a dozen police K9s and officers came to Fairfield on Wednesday to pay their respects to two of the city’s police dogs, who recently died. Both dogs were retired from service at the time of their death. The honored dogs were Zeus, whose part

Fairfield pays tribute to departed police dogs

The honored dogs were Zeus, whose partner was Officer Rob Corner, and Ketcher, whose partner was Officer John Cresap.

Ketcher was born in 2003, having been imported from Slovakia. He began working with Cresap in 2004 and retired this past June, dying on Sept. 18. It was his passing that prompted the department to pay tribute to him and to another of its recently departed dogs, Zeus, said Chief Mike Dickey.

Zeus was imported from the Czech Republic after he was born in 1997. He began patrolling with Corner in 1999, serving for six years. He passed away in May 2007.

“It’s probably difficult for a non-police officer to understand the bond that goes between the dog handlers and the dogs, and by extension, the officers that work with these dogs on a daily basis. Officers depend on these dogs to be through the door first when there is a dangerous situation. There is that physical bond of love between the handlers, but it goes well beyond that for us in law enforcement … they are as much a part of our police department as any male or female officer,” Dickey said.

During their service together, Corner and Zeus made hundreds of arrests. One of these, in 2003, awarded them the “Patrol Catch of the Month” award by the United States Police K-9 Association. That success prompted the department to add a second K-9 team, Dickey said.

Corner, who attended with another retired police dog named Rex, said, “This is the best thing out there. There’s nothing better than running through the woods and feeling the line go limp in the middle of the night and hearing (a suspect) yell, ‘Get him off me!’ It’s the best sound in the world.”

Ketcher, so named because he was good at catching things, made more than 2,000 arrests with Cresap. One such seizure, made in cooperation with Springfield Twp. police, uncovered nine kilos of cocaine, said the chief.

“Ketcher was a very special partner. I was very privileged to be his handler. There will never be another dog like him,” Cresap said.

Both of the departed dogs received the distinction of a send-off over the Fairfield police radio, which is considered a high honor by officers.

“You may be gone but not forgotten. May you both rest in peace. We have the watch from here,” the dispatcher said.

Fairfield’s current K-9s are Canaan and Koda. Cresap handles Canaan and Officer John Vinskey handles Koda. Both have been with the department for less than a year, Dickey said.

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