It’s a tie hard to put into words.
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.