GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey police dog who died in the line of duty was honored Thursday with a police memorial service complete with a rifle salute, helicopter flyover, bagpipe band, 150 police dogs, and more than 1,000 mourners.
Schultz, a 3 ½-year-old German Shepherd, was killed Nov. 30. Police say he sunk his teeth into the forearm of a robbery suspect he had tracked down; the man swung his arm, and Schultz was thrown into the path of a car. He was hit and killed.
Twenty-year-old Skyler Robinson was charged with the dog’s death. The crime is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Since Schultz’s death alongside Route 42, the community reaction has been much like it would be for a fallen human officer.
Flags at the Gloucester Township building have flown at half-staff, and police officers have black bands over their badges. More than 100 officers, many of them from other towns, joined in the three-hour manhunt for Robinson, now jailed in Camden County.
The memorial service, too, was a somber, tearful one. Schultz’s partner, Police Cpl. Mark Pickard, and Pickard’s family sat in the front row during the ceremony at a park. Officials unveiled a memorial to Schultz and other deceased police dogs who have served the town since it started a K-9 unit in the late 1990s.
Gloucester Township Mayor David Mayer said Schultz exemplified three important traits:
“Courage, pride and loyalty. All of these are unconditional virtues that transcend his commitment to Corporal Pickard and the residents of our community.”
Schultz was named after former Philadelphia Flyers hockey player Dave “The Hammer” Schultz from a fifth-grader’s winning entry in an essay contest.
With Pickard, the dog won 10th place in October in a competition for police dogs from across the country.
Former Stafford Township Police Chief Thomas Conroy, who helped the pair train this year, said Schultz was involved in several arrests and once tracked down a shooting suspect. But at the Pickard home, Schultz was a typical dog who got into trouble, flooding the family’s yard with a garden hose and creating havoc when he broke some dishes in the dishwasher after he was caught trying to lick crumbs off them, Conroy said.
Like other police dogs, Schultz lived with his officer-partner— and was almost never apart from him.
“No bond is stronger than the bond between a human officer and his dog,” Conroy said.
The police dogs at the service barked during the rifle salute, but otherwise sat at attention in orderly rows. Other dogs—some working animals like guide dogs in training and others simply pets — were also taken to the service.
Terry McCulley, a Gloucester Township resident brought his German Shepherd-huskie mix, Diesel.
“I can relate to the loss. He’s 3 ½, too,” he said. Our family with be devastated it something happened to him.”
Another resident, Mary Quattrone, said a police K-9 helped catch someone who had broken into her home.
She said that made her appreciate the police dogs even more, but she would have attended the service anyway.
“To me,” she said, “that was an officer killed in the line of duty.”
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