The Richmond Police K-9 handler who lost his partner over the weekend is sharing just how important the dog's work was in keeping the city safe.
A decorated grave site at the department K-9 training facility serves as a sign of how much K-9 Koda is loved and missed. He was not only a valuable department asset, but a friend.
This weekend, Officer Monty Agee had to make a decision every pet owner dreads. This time, though, the decision to let Koda go affected an entire community and its safety.
"He's protected me all these years and he's been a loyal friend," Officer Agee said. "It's a hard one to make. You know, to say those words, it's very difficult."
Koda's years of service as an RPD patrol dog ended after a midnight shift Saturday morning when Officer Agee noticed something wasn't right with his partner.
"He had fluid building up in his belly and he was going into heart failure," Agee recalled. "And, from what we understand it was a cancerous tumor around his heart that burst."
The 7-year-old German shepherd was a special kind of animal. He could track criminals and evidence in the darkest of woods and on the most dangerous city streets. Since 2007, Koda had made 55 apprehensions and located more than 25 pieces of evidence.
"It makes you feel proud, like a parent, that you took something that didn't know how to sit when you got it and it does all these amazing things," Agee explained.
The loss leaves a hole in the Richmond Police K-9 Unit. The dogs are an integral crime-fighting tool. Each costs the department between $4,000 and $6,500 and goes through an intensive 14 weeks of training.
"There are some cases that we did that I'm proud of, of suspects or criminals that he caught that have been prosecuted and are in prison for a pretty long time and it was because he went out and found them," Agee added.
Koda's service will be recognized at a department ceremony in August. In the fall, Officer Agee will train with a new dog.
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