A K9 is without his partner after Officer Eric Joering was shot and killed in the line of duty. But plans are underway for the dog to be retired and become a full-time family member of the Joering’s family after their devastating loss.
K9 Sam, of the Westerville Division of Police in Ohio, was in the back of the police cruiser when Officer Eric Joering and Officer Anthony Morelli were shot and killed.
The two veteran officers were responding to a domestic violence incident when they were shot to death in an apartment complex by suspect Quentin Smith.
The 39-year-old Joering had 16 years on the force and leaves behind a wife and three daughters. The 54-year-old Morelli was a veteran of 29 years with a wife and two children.
K9 Sam’s original trainer, Mike Pennington, got the dog from the shooting scene that day and revealed that Sam was scared and shaken up.
Later that day, Sam was with Chaplain James Meacham, who had the difficult task of telling Ofc. Joering’s family what had happened.
“When I went up to the house to tell the family that daddy had been shot…that he had died, they brought Sam in and that helped the girls a lot to have the dog there,” he said. “He’s just a great man. He has daughters that are just to die for. He was a K9 officer. He loved what he did. He was so excited to become a K9 officer.” Of the two slain officers, the chaplain said, “They are to me and this city, our heroes.”
Every day, K9 got up with Joering and went to work and came home every day to be with the family. Although K9s are officially an officer of the department, a special city council meeting is going to be held to officially offer Sam to Joering’s family. According to the Fraternal Order of Police, the family is expected to say yes.
Pennington says Sam is heartbroken too, but doing okay. Despite his pain, K9 Sam will trade in his K9 badge for the title of therapy dog, bringing comfort to Officer Joering’s children during their time of loss.