“All good puppies go to heaven.” Franze said.
Franze, a 15-year veteran of K-9 handling, said his thoughts and prayers were with that officer and his family.
Franze said after the ceremony Kilo died doing what he was trained to do. Franze's two previous dogs had less violent passings. His first dog developed blindness after a traffic accident and his most recent canine partner lived to age 12 when he developed hip dysplasia and eventually had to be put down.
Robert Compton, master trainer for the Allen County Sheriff's Department, said before the ceremony he was glad it would be a memorial for a K-9 he was attending instead of a funeral for an officer. Kilo saved the lives of the officers by locating the suspect, he said.
Compton said the dogs and their handlers went through a rigorous 14-week training program. The program is very demanding on both dogs and their handlers and runs at least 8 hours a day, and sometimes more. One dog in the program washed out; it's not for every dog. The dogs they use are bred for this type of work and are imported from Europe.
FWPD Police Officer Kevin J. Neher's new dog is a Czech Shepherd. Neher said Ranger is bigger and woollier than the dogs in the States. He is Neher's first dog. Neher, a dog lover, has been on the FWPD for five and a half years and said becoming a K-9 officer just seemed like the next step in his career. He likes the idea of being able to take a dog to work with him.
Four canine officers graduated Friday: Neher, with Ranger; Deputy Douglas J. Weaver, with K-9 Andy, of the Wabash County Sheriff's Department, Franze, with K-9 Kaja; and Cpl. Sean L. Miller, with K-9 Miky, of the Auburn Police Department.