When Officer Ryan Davis was attacked on the job, his partner, German Shepherd K9 officer Jethro, took three bullets to defend his partner and best friend. Though the K9 officer – badge number 60 – didn’t survive, Davis says he owes his life to his special four-legged partner.
Officer’s Best Friend
Officer Davis got Jethro when the puppy was merely eight weeks old. It would have been Jethro’s third birthday this week. Years with a partner at his side have made this a heavy loss. Davis has told his fellow Canton, Ohio, officers that it feels like part of him is missing. And this is no surprise – in order to be qualified to be a canine handler in Ohio, it’s a rigorous seven-week program for both handler and dog.
According to Excel K9 Training Curriculum out of Ohio, topics of study are varied but should include Tracking Work, Scent Work, Tactical Obedience Work, even Building Search Work. The dogs themselves do jobs that humans simply couldn’t do without them. Excel reported that one K9 officer, Hugo, found 1000 pounds of illegal narcotics during his first month on the job. That would be impressive for any officer, let alone one who cannot speak English or defend itself with more than just jaws and paws.
That Fateful Day
On that fateful day, Officers Jethro and Davis responded to a burglary alarm early on Saturday morning. When they arrived on the scene, the accused burglar opened fire – Jethro jumped in to protect Davis – and got shot in the face, shoulder, and neck, taking down the K9 officer.
“There is no doubt in my mind that I am here because of what he did,” said Davis.
While Davis’ attacker was also injured during the shootout – he took a bullet to the leg – he is expected to make a full recovery, unlike the K9 companion who is touching everyone’s heart. Davis himself, grief stricken and loyal, stayed by his partner’s side for two days while the dog tried to recuperate.
“He was a fighter,” said Davis, who would later go on to describe that weekend as the worst two days of his life.
This is a huge declaration for a man who has served America both in the Marines and later on the force.
The Man Responsible
The man accused of shooting Jethro is 22-year-old Kelonte Demorious Barefield. Barefield, in the Stark County Jail, has been charged with aggravated burglary, assaulting or harassing a police dog, felonious assault on a peace officer, and having weapons under disability and shooting on or near a prohibited area, according to Fox 8 in Cleveland.
A Gracious Gift From A Charitable Organization
Kristi Schiller, founder of the organization K9s4COPS which has donated over 100 dogs to aid officers, learned of the tragedy and responded strongly, declaring, “K9s4COPs knows K9 Jethro can never be replaced. He was very special and will be remembered as one of a kind. K9s4COPs intends to supplement the Ohio agency so their ability to fight crime does not become an issue.”
It’s a warm condolence to those in a very difficult time, indeed.
Have you ever known a brave K9 officer or do you know of a friend who could use a story like Jethro’s? Share the story or chat with us below. We’d love to hear more from you about these brave little officers. Many thanks, Jethro, for keeping your best friend safe.