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Handler remembers beloved Hope K-9 who passed away

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

Served on the Hope Police Department for eight years

(HOPE, Ind.) -- The Hope Police Department is remembering one of their own who gave several years of service to the community.

K-9 Duke passed away after a brief illness that quickly worsened.

Officer Rick Everroad was his handler the entire time. Everroad paid for the dog, the training and upkeep out of his own pocket, due to limited funds within the community.

K-9 Duke was born in December of 2013 and Everroad received him in February 2014.

"We immediately went into obedience training and drug training which took nearly a year," Officer Everroad said.

K-9 Duke as a puppy (2014)

Duke became a certified member of the Hope Police Department in April of 2015.

Over the years, Duke assisted officers approximately 80 times and during one incident the K-9 helped the police department recover 50 grams of marijuana.

Everroad recalls one specific altercation between two men when Duke helped mitigate the situation due to his presence.

"The men were arguing and approached me when Duke let them know he was in the back of my car and that got complete compliance from them," Everroad recalled.

"He probably would have licked them to death, he was not a vicious dog, but was very protective of me," he added.

When a department loses a K-9 it's also like losing a family member for the handler.

"He slept in our kitchen the entire time we had him, he was our dog," the officer said. "You don't consider a working dog as a pet so you have to treat him a bit differently, but he is still your buddy."

Everroad says he has been surprised and encouraged by the community who has reached out following Duke's passing.

"I didn't realize how large his impact was. I would have complete strangers at events walk up and ask where Duke was, and also kids who remembered him from demonstrations I did four years prior, who would remember him," Everroad said.

Everorad and Duke during a demonstration

Duke served the on the police department for more than eight years and assisted Everoad on the Saturday before his passing.

The Hope Police Department will keep Duke's memory alive as they will now utilize K-9 Gunnar to serve in the role.


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