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Law enforcement: Somber farewell for bloodhound that died after fire
By Jason Lesley
Tracking dogs Diesel and Kate knew Tuesday was an unusual day at the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office. Heavy traffic in the parking lot had them baying with anticipation.
Assistant Sheriff Carter Weaver said the dogs had not been quiet and comfortable since deputies hung a blue and white wreath with the lettering “K9 Blue” over an empty pen where 1-year-old Blue was burned in an accidental fire last week and never returned from his veterinarian in Mount Pleasant.
On Tuesday, Sheriff Lane Cribb and about 50 law enforcement officers said good-bye to Blue during a memorial service in the training room. Cribb thanked the officers for coming but cut his remarks short with a lump in his throat. “I didn’t realize it would be this hard,” he said.
Bishop John Smith of Greater Bible Way Church of Georgetown officiated. He said he had never held a funeral for a dog in his 40 years as a pastor. He said he prayed and the word that came to him was friendship. “Blue gave his life for this department,” Smith said. “Thank God for an animal like Blue who does not judge us, does not know color, religion or ethnicity — only love.”
Investigator Jason Dozier carried the urn containing the dog’s ashes into the service. He was accompanied by other members of the sheriff’s office tracking team. Tracking hounds are not assigned to a single officer. All 10 men participate in training and use of the dogs to hunt suspects or missing persons. The tracking team and other members of the sheriff’s office wore black bands across their badges in honor of Blue. The bands are traditionally worn for a fallen comrade until midnight on the day of the funeral, according to Carrie Cuthbertson, the sheriff’s public information officer.
Blue was a mix of bluetick and redbone hounds, Dozier said. It’s a breed called SLED stock bloodhound developed by officers at the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office that will bay while tracking. Bluetick hounds track silently, he explained. Blue welcomed all who parked near his kennel with his deep voice, Dozier said. When the kennels were being cleaned, the dogs were let out into a common area. “Who would have known that Blue and Diesel could have so much fun playing tug-of-war with a stainless steel bowl?” he asked. “Kate watched with her nose turned up in the air.”
Dozier said Blue was still an energetic puppy. “He would let you know he was around at all times,” he said after the memorial service. “He was always wanting to go, even if he didn’t know exactly what he was supposed to do. He was still in training, but always eager to please. We will miss Blue greatly. He was one of us.”
Dozier said the officers prepared themselves for Tuesday’s service with a heavy heart. They had agreed that euthanasia was best for Blue after the veterinarian said his quality of life would be poor even if he miraculously survived. “It was difficult for all of us here to see Blue go,” Dozier said. “In these circumstances, it was the best thing.”
The urn containing the dog’s ashes will be part of a memorial along with his photograph at the sheriff’s office.