UPDATE: Sadly, Jethro took a turn for the worse and he succumbed to his injuries on January 10, 2016. He died a hero and saved the lives of his fellow human officers. Funds raised in his name will go towards making other canine officers safer as they perform their duties in our community. RIP Jethro.
In Canton, Ohio, we value our canine police officers as much as we do their human counterparts. Canton’s police dogs are local heroes, and they have more than earned that status.
As a city whose population is shrinking, Canton has urban crime rates that rival those of much bigger cities. Our safety forces are seriously underfunded and their numbers are truly inadequate for the needs, so canine officers are frequently called upon to intervene in very hazardous situations. This weekend, one of our canine heroes, Jethro, was struck down in the line of duty, and there are few dry eyes in Canton as a result.
Jethro was shot in the line of duty as he chased an armed burglar. The burglar unloaded a series of bullets intended for human officers and Jethro was struck as he chased the criminal down. He literally took the bullet for his human comrades. Despite being shot at least 3 times, Jethro survived, but he is not out of the woods yet. He is being monitored closely and being provided round the clock care at the Stark County Emergency Veterinary Clinic.
(Jethro’s human partner returned fire, as did other officers, and the burglar was wounded and apprehended.)
Most medium to large cities have canine officers, and they perform a critical service for our communities. These animals often go into situations where it is unsafe for human officers to go, and they can be placed in very risky situations. We need to ensure their protection as much as we possibly can, as they are extremely important to our communities’ safety. Many communities lack the resources to do that, though. Canton is one of them.
Although Canton has bullet proof vests for its canine officers, they are old and heavy, and they are rarely used. Jethro was not vested at the time of his shooting.
We now know that we need to improve our protection for our valued canine officers. We are sorry we didn’t do it before, Jethro, but we are doing it now. Local community leader and dog blogger Beth Philly of DOGGIES.COM has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to cover Jethro’s vet bills and to purchase new vests for all of Canton’s canine officers. If you would like to contribute, we would love to accept your donation.
Jethro’s story has touched a nerve in Canton, and it is spreading well beyond Canton’s city limits. When an animal is injured through an act of bravery, it brings us to our knees. Officers from Police Departments across the country have bent a knee and shared prayers and well wishes for Jethro. So have concerned citizens from all over the world. I am told that the parking lot of the Stark County Emergency Veterinary Clinic is full of emergency vehicles with officers standing vigil in the clinic’s lobby for Jethro.
My art is dedicated to celebrating the human/animal bond, and never before have I witnessed such a story about that bond. I have decided to create a Premiere Pet Portrait Painting of Jethro to celebrate his bond with his community and his fellow officers. The portrait will be given to Officer Ryan Davis, Jethro’s handler, and his family, who considers Jethro a pet. The bond between Jethro and Officer Davis rises to dimensions beyond the traditional human-pet relationship, and the community’s love for Jethro takes on a whole new dimension. How could I resist the artistic challenge of creating this awesome creature’s portrait?
I will post again about Jethro’s story and the progress of his portrait. You can learn more about his entry into the Canton Police force here, and you can contribute to the GoFundMe campaign here. Follow the DOGGIES.COM blog for updates on his condition and medical progress.
Let’s all hope that Jethro has many adventures still left ahead of him.
Life is an Adventure!