Valley K-9 officers mourn death of Tulare Police Department canine, killed in action Sunday

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It’s a tie hard to put into words.

Or barks.

An officer and K-9 partner.

“The bond and the relationship that we have is the same as I would consider my own son and daughter,” Fresno County Sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Kitchens said. 

But last year, a scary moment for Kitchens almost separated him from 7-and-a-half-year-old K-9 Mikey. 

The two work with the Fresno Sheriff’s SWAT team. 

As Mikey moved in on a call in July of 2017, a pit bull attacked him.

Another SWAT member fired at the pit bull; a round, instead, hitting Mikey in the front-right paw.

“Once I saw his foot literally explode, I knew it was probably a career-ending injury,” Kitchens said. 

Sunday night, Tulare Police K-9 Bane was shot and killed by a suspect, as Bane and his officer engaged in a vehicle pursuit.

Bane was just 1-and-a-half-years-old, even trained for bomb detection.

This was his first weekend working with his partner.

“The two had just completed a 5-week intensive training, where the two had bonded tremendously,” Tulare Police Department Interim Chief Matt Machado said. “It was an intense bond, and I believe the two had all the potential in the world to do great things.”

A different outcome for Kitchens and Mikey.

Mikey, back in service more than one year, missing two toes and part of his paw pad.

Still, a feeling of loss Kitchens can’t imagine.

“Seeing my partner go down, whether it was a human partner or a canine partner, in my department, Fresno PD or Tulare county, or Tulare PD,” Kitchens said. “It’s indescribable when you see a fellow law enforcement officer down.”

The Tulare Police Department plans to hold a service for Bane, when his partner heals.

Kitchens says his wife is preparing a care package for Bane’s officer.

Reporting in Fresno, Megan Rupe.

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