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AKC Announces Recipients of 2016 Paw Of Courage Award

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The American Kennel Club (AKC) recently launched its newest award called the AKC Paw of Courage. This award is given to working dogs that have either been injured or killed in the line of duty while serving the country.

“These working dogs possess great courage and dedication,” said AKC Vice President Gina DiNardo. “They continuously put their lives on the line, and have sacrificed their own safety, well-being, and in some cases even their lives, to keep us safe. Each dog awarded with the AKC Paw of Courage has made a significant sacrifice in the line of duty.

So far, the AKC Paw of Courage has been awarded to four canines on the police force. The first recipient was Ogar of Smith County’s Constable Office in Texas. The one-year-old Belgian Malinois was a courageous canine in the force and was also a delightful family dog. He loved to run circles around the swimming pool with Deputy Constable Kevin Petty’s two little girls. He also loved to play tug of war and was a master escape artist.

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While conducting a routine traffic stop with Constable Petty,  a perp fled the scene, resulting in a vehicle pursuit. When the suspect evaded police on foot in a wooded area, K9 Ogar was deployed. Upon confrontation, he was shot and killed. Constable Petty says that Ogar sacrificed his life to save his, as he was always by his side and looked up at him with true love and devotion.

K9 Officer Jag was also a Belgian Malinois dog who served with the Twin Rivers Unified School District Police Department in California for five years. Jag competed countless events and won numerous awards during his time at the police force and also dedicated many hours doing public outreach programs in schools and nearby communities.

“K9 Jag was everything a handler and a school Police Department could want. He knew his job and did it well,” says his partner, Sergeant Arlin Kocher.

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While completing his annual certification, the eight-year-old dog was struck and killed by a vehicle. Sergeant Kocher described Jag as being a powerful, intense yet still energetic and sweet dog who excelled in every aspect of his career and is credited with hundreds of narcotic searches, over 50 suspect surrenders  and three apprehensions during his career.

The third recipient of the Paw of Courage award was given to K9 Officer Betcha from Rutland County Sheriff’s Office in Vermont. The two-year-old Australian Cattle dog served as a narcotics tracking K9 and was with the police force for a year before he was struck and killed by a vehicle during the line of duty. His handler, Deputy Sheriff Edward Hunter, said Betcha was his fourth K9 partner but the “first dog that I can say was my therapy.” When Betcha was off-duty, he loved playing Frisbee and sticking his head out the window to let people snap pictures of him as he passed by.

The final recipient of the new award was given to K9 Officer Kirjger of the Norfolk Police Department in Virgina. Police were responding to a domestic violence call when the man barricaded himself inside the home with his wife as a hostage. After several hours, the suspect exited the house and opened fire to the officers, fatally wounding four-year-old Officer Kirjger.

Officer Kirjger and handler Officer Ryan McNiff’s partnership because during a 16-week training course, where the due learned obedience, tracking, open area searches, apprehensions, building searches and control commands.

“Krijger was not only my partner, he was also my best friend”, says Officer McNiff. “Krijger taught me many things about courage, honor, loyalty and friendship”.

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Officer Krijger was responsible for over 30 felony apprehensions and performed many public demonstrations within schools and communities. On his off-duty hours, K9 Krijger could be found sitting on the patio enjoying a good bone or running around the backyard with one of his many toys. His favorite events consisted of outdoor barbecues and simply enjoying a relaxing fire pit at night with his human family.

All four of these dogs are very well-deserving of this award and will be truly missed. Thank you for your years of service and may they give you plenty of delicious doggy treats on Rainbow Bridge.


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