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Law Enforcement Dog Teams Assemble for K-9 Memorial Dedication

March 14, 2003

One of the deepest bonds formed between humans and animals is the relationship between law enforcement officers and the dogs with whom they serve.

The California Police Dog Memorial, Faithful Partner, which recognizes that bond of service and affection, is dedicated to police dogs who have died in the line of duty.

K-9 teams from across California are greeted by
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer (center).

The memorial statue was unveiled October 6, when dozens of law enforcement dogs and their handlers, representing departments from all over California, attended a solemn dedication ceremony that included a bugler, bagpipes and color guard.

Chief Calvin Handy of the UC Davis Police officiated—attendees included California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Dean Bennie Osburn, sculptor Susan Bahary and the anonymous donor who contributed more than $200,000 to establish the California Police Dog Memorial at the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Faithful Partner is located between the northern entrance of the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) and Schalm Hall. Its focal point is a life-size bronze statue of a German shepherd created by Ms. Bahary of Sausalito. A special plaque memorializes each of the 23 California police dogs who have died in police service since 1960.

Ms. Bahary is dedicating a portion of the proceeds from a miniature of her bronze statue, available to collectors, to the VMTH Emergency Medicine and Critical Care Service. The VMTH has helped to save the lives of at least two critically injured police K-9s.

In 1993, Modesto police dog Duke was stabbed twice in the left side and lung after cornering a suspect. He was treated in Modesto and referred to the VMTH by his veterinarian two days later, after infection set in. His human partner, Officer Gene Balentine, spent seven days by his side in the VMTH intensive care unit oxygen cage, until Duke rallied and began to recover.

More recently, Fresno police dog Saxon, hailed as a hero for saving the life of his partner, Officer Russell Cornelison, was shot August 22 in the chest, left front leg, right rear leg and ear, while apprehending a suspect. He is the first Fresno police dog to be shot in the line of duty since establishment of the city’s K-9 unit in 1993.

Dr. Eddie Gunner, a UC Davis graduate of the School of Veterinary Medicine whose veterinary practice cares for the Fresno K-9s, referred Saxon to the UC Davis VMTH intensive care unit, where his lung trauma, fractures and soft tissue injuries could be monitored, and he could receive oxygen therapy and surgery.

Saxon has assumed a new role with the Fresno Police Department in public relations.