K9 service dog Paco pays a visit to the memorial during its dedication Tuesday, April 16. Photo by Haley Ausbun

K9 service dog Paco pays a visit to the memorial during its dedication Tuesday, April 16. Photo by Haley Ausbun

Special police partners honored

King County Sheriff’s Office dedicates new memorial to honor K9 service dogs and handlers.

Hawk, Kuva, Ace. These are some of the 60 King County Sheriff’s Office partners who make up 341 years of service combined. They’re the nose and ears of officers.

The King County Sheriff’s Office dedicated a new memorial to honor the K9 service dogs and handlers, from as far back as 1977. The sheriff’s office hosted a dedication on Tuesday, April 16 at 3511 NE Second St. in Renton.

Captain Greg Thomas presented awards to current and retired K9 handlers. He said the previous memorial had grown to capacity and just wasn’t proper anymore.

In 2017, a group got together to create a new memorial, which includes 28 ground-markers that were moved in 2012 to the communications center, and 32 wall plaques that were created after hours of research identifying more service dogs and handlers that had worked with the sheriff’s office.

Many handlers got involved in helping re-create the memorial, including Deputy Randy Houser, who donated hours of time to help transport the stones. Moving the stones was a challenge, as some weigh over 200 pounds.

Deputy Mick D’Orazio and his wife, Amanda, volunteered to create the canine sculptures made out of concrete, named Guardian and Valor, and put hundreds of hours to restore Guardian for the new memorial.

“If you look at that dog’s tongue, you’d swear it’s going to lick you,” Thomas said.

Thomas also awarded his son, dispatcher Alex Thomas, who coordinated with Puyallup-based business Impressive Trophies and Awards, as well as Orca Granite and Stone, and Western Graphics, to help create the new plaques and move the memorial.

King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn attended the dedication and spoke about his time as a special assistant U.S. attorney in the southern district of Florida, and how service dogs had an affect on saving lives.

Thomas wrapped up by explaining that these dogs don’t just get put in a cage after their work day. They go home with their handlers, live with them and travel with them until their passing.

K9 partners provide services in tracking, explosives, narcotics and arson. Currently the sheriff’s office has 13 active duty dogs, and 10 retired dogs.

The 32 new wall plaques were completed after hours of research finding other dog handlers and service dogs from years past. Photos by Haley Ausbun

The 32 new wall plaques were completed after hours of research finding other dog handlers and service dogs from years past. Photos by Haley Ausbun

Guardian, a concrete statue that was moved and restored for the new King County Sheriff’s Office K9 memorial by Deputy Mick D’Orazio, is a reminder of the work that service dogs have been doing as far back as 1977. Photo by Haley Ausbun

Guardian, a concrete statue that was moved and restored for the new King County Sheriff’s Office K9 memorial by Deputy Mick D’Orazio, is a reminder of the work that service dogs have been doing as far back as 1977. Photo by Haley Ausbun

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