In one week, one police department in Georgia lost two officers, yes officers, four legs notwithstanding.
K-9 Eli died Thursday after tracking a suspect for 30 minutes in 90-degree temperatures.
Eros, a K-9 veteran recently retired, died suddenly from cancer on Wednesday, May 22.
Both dogs were nine-years-old. The official results of a University of Georgia necropsy on K-9 Eli won’t be available for some time, but it’s reported that his death was heat-related. Eros became ill and was diagnosed with a cancer that spread in his body. Rather then see him suffer, he was euthanized.
The Gwinnett County Police Department, and thousands more, are grieving.
Here’s what you need to know:
Eli Gave His Life in the Line of Duty
Eli, a Belgian Malinois breed, and his handler Gwinnett County Police Officer Matthew Bonanno were tracking a 26-year-old suspect wanted for threatening his former girlfriend and for outstanding warrants.
Bonanno and K-9 Eli were assisting two neighboring police department in the search for suspect Christopher Bartley of Decatur, Georgia. Bartley allegedly struck his ex’s car with his and then chased her on a Gwinnett county highway before ditching his car and taking off on foot. Eli and Bonanno tracked the man for around half an hour when Eli feel ill.
“K-9 Eli became distressed today while tracking a suspect. He was rushed to a vet but unfortunately passed away. Please keep GCPD & his handler Officer Bonanno in your thoughts as we mourn the sudden loss of this brave K-9.”
Eli Was Part of the Bonanno Family. People From Around The World Are Thanking Eli For His Service & Mourning His Loss
K-9 Eli was an 8-year member of the police force. He grew up in the department.
Hundreds and hundreds of people commented on the Gwinnett County Police Department’s Facebook page post about Eli’s death.
“Geoffrey Scott Great work K-9 Eli. RIP Good Boy. See you at the Rainbow Bridge good buddy. Our condolences to Officer Bonanno, his family and the Gwinnett County Police.”
“Michelle Passmore Thank you for your Service K-9 Eli may you Rest In Peace! Officer Bonanno and GCPD y’all are in my thoughts and prayers. I pray the Lord will give you peace and comfort as you mourn the loss of K-9 Eli. I hope you celebrate his life as an Fellow Officer, a partner and as a friend during his time with you all. May God Bless y’all and keep you sheltered in his loving arms.”
A few distraught people on the police Facebook page suggested the suspect be charged in connection with K-9 Eli’s death.
In a Decision that was Likely Painful & Selfless For His Handler & Family, German Shepard K-9 Eros Was Euthanized After he Suddenly Feel Ill & Cancer Was Discovered Throughout His Body
The Gwinnett police announced the tragic news about Eros’ death on Facebook. He died the day before K-9 Eli passed.
“K-9 Eros has passed away. He worked for GCPD from Aug 2013 to June 2018 and was assigned to Cpl. Brandon Townley. Eros gave more than 7,500 hours to serving the community and will be greatly missed by his family.”
Townley spoke extensively to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about his longtime partner and beloved friend and family member.
“These dogs mean more to us than the public probably understands. They are a tool for the department to use, but to the handler and the other handlers who work with them daily, they are partners. They are not just an asset that gets a number and means nothing but a piece of property. They do everything with us. We spend more time with them than our own children.”
End of Watch, Eros.