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Memorial honors K-9s that made the ultimate sacrifice

 PINELLAS PARK, FLORIDA (AP) – Pinellas Park Police Officer Will McCullough paid tribute to his fallen K-9 Luuk Tuesday, a dog he claims he’d spent the most of his career with.

McCullough explained, “It was that kinship.” “I’d blame it on… rather than a family member. The amount of time we spend together and the experiences we have.”

During the 7th annual K-9 funeral service at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens, all of those memories were honored. All service animals in area law enforcement agencies receive burial spots in the pet cemetery, which are donated by the cemetery. Without this donation, the handler would usually have to pay for the animal’s burial out of his own cash after he died.

“It’s not only honoring the handlers who work these dogs every day,” said Sargeant Mike Kilian, who runs the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit. He claims that the majority of the dogs die after retirement, which is why they’re usually off the force by the age of seven.

“After retirement, we prefer to give them a little time to just be dogs,” Kilian remarked. “To have fun and truly jump on furniture, eat some human food — once in a while, have some pizza!”

When Luuk was diagnosed with stomach cancer, he was well on his way to living out his golden years.

“They attempted surgery, but it was ultimately unsuccessful,” McCullough explained.

He believes its ceremonies like this that provide closure. 

“It allows you to come and communicate with your partner,” he explained.

Partners, according to Kilian, are just as crucial to the force as humans.

“They work all night and all day, whether it’s a bomb dog, a police dog, or a dual-purpose dog,” he said. “Many people are unaware of how hard these dogs work – for no money.”

But you can’t place a price on loyalty and affection like this.

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