Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas police dogs honored in annual memorial service

PALM HARBOR — The Clearwater Police Department and the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office canine units held their eighth annual K-9 Memorial Service at Curlew Hills Memorial Gardens Pet Cemetery Tuesday.

The service honored five German shepherds that formerly worked for the Sheriff's Office or Clearwater police, as well as Sirius, a yellow Labrador that isn't buried there but was honored because he was the only dog to die on duty at ground zero in New York City on Sept. 11.

The five German shepherds are buried next to dozens of other law enforcement dogs from the area that have been honored at past memorial services. Curlew Hills Memorial Gardens provided the headstones and plots for the dogs for free to honor their service.

"These are officers, really, that serve the public well," said Keenan Knopke, the cemetery's president. "They need to be remembered in the correct fashion."

The honored dogs were Vader, who served in the Sheriff's Office from 2002-2009; Jester, who served from 2004-2011 in the Sheriff's Office; Deuce, a Pinellas canine unit member from 2004-2010; Dodge, a Clearwater police dog from 2003-2007; and Thor, who served as a Pinellas County unit member from 1974-1977 and 1981-1983.

Dozens of current and former handlers, some of them with their dogs, attended the service, which included a sermon by the Rev. Danny McDonald of the North Bay Community Church and a performance of Amazing Grace on bagpipes. The former handlers of all five German shepherds gave speeches recounting the deeds and personalities of their deceased partners.

"I'm sure at some point in my career that dog saved my life," said Pinellas Deputy Rick Tapia about his bomb-sniffing dog, Vader.

The dogs honored had helped locate explosives, narcotics and missing children.

Will Hicks can be reached at or (727) 445-4155.

Pinellas police dogs honored in annual memorial service

04/29/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 11:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Wildlife officers look for answers in gopher tortoise deaths while reward money piles up


    The blood had already pooled when the bodies were found, bashed and beaten. One was dead. The other was still gasping, but it was too late.

    A gopher tortoise emerges from a bush to feed on vegetation on Thursday in 2016 at the Moccasin Lake Environmental Education Center in Clearwater. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is investigating the deaths of two tortoises that were beaten and their shells broken in Manatee County. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  2. Airbnb on track to shatter tax revenues brought in last year


    Airbnb has collected more than $18 million in taxes for Florida state and local governments so far this year, putting it on a fast-track to shatter its 2016 tax collection of $20 million.

    Airbnb has collected more than $18 million in taxes for Florida state and local governments so far this year, putting it on a fast-track to shatter its 2016 tax collection of $20 million.
[Bloomberg file photo]

  3. PSTA foresees no service cuts as it rolls out proposed 2018 budget


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will unveil the first draft of its 2018 budget at Wednesday morning's meeting of the governing board.

    A Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority bus leaves the terminal at  3180 Central Ave. in St Petersburg in 2014. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  4. What you need to know for Wednesday, June 28


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    St. Petersburg will finally break ground today on its long-awaited downtown Pier. [City of  St. Petersburg]
  5. USF's 'Black Pulp!' and 'Woke!' exhibits reframe African-American representation

    Visual Arts

    The concept of being "woke" is inextricably woven into the zeitgeist. To be truly woke, you have to be aware of not only current social injustices, but also the historical fight against prejudice.

    Renee Cox’s Chillin with Liberty (1998) is part of the “Black Pulp!” exhibition at the University of South Florida’s Contemporary Art Museum.