A viral photo posted by a retired deputy sheriff on the fourth anniversary of her K9 partner’s death is breaking the hearts of thousands.
Not only did the post share how the canine was killed in the line of duty, but it also shared a powerful message about the strong relationship that develops between officers and their K9 partners.
On Oct. 7, 2014, Deputy Sheriff Farrah Ashe and her K9 partner, Baron, were pursuing a suspect accused of illegally selling drugs.
“Baron had located a few suspects in his short career, but they had all given up without him having to engage them. This night he was forced to fight with one, who we found out later had experience with Rottweilers and Pit Bulls,” Ashe wrote on Facebook.
The chase continued into a swampy field. Ashe was behind Baron, but hadn’t heard him in a while. She began calling his name, but he never responded.
“Seeing the reflection of my flashlight in his eyes when I was looking for him in that swampy field is (embedded) in my brain. Seeing him lying in 6″ inches of water, unconscious with his eyes open…you can’t make that go away,” she wrote.
The 27-year-old suspect pushed Baron’s snout into the mud, ultimately causing him to asphyxiate.
“I drug him out of the mud and dropped to my knees. I sealed his mouth with my hands and blew into his nostrils. I gave him chest compressions while yelling for my back-up to call Fire/Rescue,” Ashe recalled the traumatic moment. “I screamed in a shaky voice, ‘He killed him, he f***ing killed my dog.’ I suddenly hated that suspect like I’ve never felt hate in my life. I still do, even though I shouldn’t.”
Baron was rushed to the Animal ER, but the vet told Ashe the news she didn’t want to hear but already knew was true: Her beloved K9 partner had died.
“I was covered in mud and soaking wet, and so was my boy. But I was alive, and he wasn’t. I later had bruises on my knees from kneeling on the table while giving him CPR,” she wrote.
A friend and fellow police officer heard about Baron and rushed to meet Ashe at the hospital to lend emotional support.
“I looked up at my friend after the Vet put her hand on my shoulder and told me he was gone. She always has the prettiest blue eyes. But at the moment, they were as red as they could be and filled with tears. She was silent, as I was and we both stood in silence for a moment.”
While the events that transpired that night led to “one of the worst moments” in Ashe’s life, the four-year anniversary of Baron’s death allowed Ashe to reflect on just how special her relationship with the K9 officer was.
“He wasn’t a tool, he was my partner. I’ll never know if he kept me from harm that night. I’ll assume he did. I’ll assume that worthless human was going to do harm to me and Baron took the hit,” she wrote.
Baron was truly an amazing K9 officer who was taken from this world too soon. In fact, Baron’s story inspired the foundation of a non-profit called K9s United.
K9s United works to help fund K9 programs across the country equipping these agile officers to do their jobs well. They also help memorialize whose who “pay the ultimate sacrifice” by commissioning an artist to paint an 18×24 canvas for every fallen K9 officer in the U.S. since Baron’s death.
There’s no doubt that Baron’s life and death impacted the lives of others through his service and his legacy, and especially touched the life of the one who worked so closely with him, Ashe.
She ended her post by saying, “He is my Hero. I miss you, Wild Man. I hope I see you again one day.”
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