POLK CO., N.C. (WSPA) – Deputies in a western North Carolina community paid their final respects to a faithful crime fighting colleague.
An official motorcade transported Ike, a retired Polk County K9, as saluting officers greeted the 8 year-old German Shepard at Bonnie Brae Veterinary Hospital in Columbus Thursday.
After serving in the narcotics unit for three years, health issues forced Ike into retirement in December 2016 when he started having seizures.
Ike’s caretakers said medication helped but in retirement his health continued to decline.
The seizures became more frequent.
Nancy Weinhagen of Saluda who helped care for Ike, said when Ike lost his appetite and ability to stand over the last few days she and his longtime handler, Ronnie Russell, decided it was time to euthanize Ike.
“K9s, like Ike, are many times more faithful than people,” said Sheriff Donald Hill.
“People need to realize how important these dogs are. You can go back in law enforcement, the military. People would be surprised how many military personnel owe their lives to these dogs,” Sheriff Hill added.
A customer at the vet’s office Thursday was so moved by Ike’s emotional farewell that she paid the bill for his final vet expenses, including the cremation services.
Ike’s legacy lives on in the two K9s who continue to serve with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.