The grieving family of a Californian police K-9 handler, killed in an off-duty cycling collision, have lost their husband and father but gained a new family member in the officer’s four-legged partner.
Sergeant Michael Pershall was riding his bicycle near his home in Modesto, when he was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver late August.
Council officials decided on Tuesday unanimously that Ike, a three-year-old Belgian Malinois can retire and live out his days with Sgt Pershall’s family, and sold to them for a fee of just $1 despite the dogs costing about $10,000 to train.
"It is not a good deal for the police department to lose the dog," Police Chief Galen Carroll said at the council meeting.
"But there is also the human factor of, you have a wife and two kids who just lost their dad, and that’s the family dog. What is the right thing to do?"
Announcing his passing in August, Modesto Police Canine Association said their officers were “devastated” in the news of Sgt Pershall’s death.
“Mike was a true friend to all who met him. He was a great officer, handler and dad to K-9 Ike and everyone knew he was going to be a phenomenal supervisor.
“Mike, we are very grateful for the time we had with you, the friendship each of us made with you and the legacy you have left us,” the group wrote on their Facebook page.
The Modesto Police Canine Association has been fundraising towards Ike’s replacement and has already received an outpouring of support from the community offering to chip in, to ensure the fallen officer’s family can keep his partner.
The driver of the vehilce involved in the officer's death, Matthew Gibbs, 32, was charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, local news reported.