K-9 Amigo’s service scheduled for Saturday
End of Watch: August 20, 2016
KINGMAN – A public memorial service to honor K-9 Amigo is scheduled Saturday at noon at the Kingman Academy High School, 3420 N. Burbank St.
The Belgian Malinois, age 3½, died Saturday morning at Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care in Las Vegas. He served with the Kingman Police Department since May of 2015.
Amigo suffered heat exhaustion while tracking two injured hikers with his handler, Officer Adam Simonsen, near Whit Cliffs in response to a 911 call Wednesday around 1 p.m. The two hikers were rescued and taken to Kingman Regional Medical Center for minor injuries.
Amigo was taken to a local veterinary clinic before being transported to Las Vegas at 10:30 p.m.
The KPD asked the veterinarian in Las Vegas to provide frequent updates of Amigo’s condition, said Jennifer Sochocki, a KPD spokeswoman. She said they received a call at 9:30 a.m. Saturday that Amigo was slowly improving.
“It was quite shocking that at 10:30 a.m. we got the call of his death,” said Sochocki.
“For us, he’s family. He’s an officer in our department. He’s just a four-legged officer instead of two,” said Sochocki. Amigo was certified in narcotics detection, tracking and handler protection. He was credited with numerous drug seizures, including one that totaled 62 pounds of cocaine in February.
When asked how far the KPD was willing to go with Amigo’s hospital care, Sochocki said they had faith in the care Amigo was receiving and he was in a “top notch” animal hospital in Las Vegas. The KPD was receiving frequent updates that were positive about him from the veterinarian.
“It was uncharted territory," said Sochocki. “We did not want the dog to suffer.”
Amigo was purchased with a grant from the Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area partnership. The price for Amigo and training from Canine Services in New Mexico was $12,800.
The KPD had an $8,000 insurance policy on Amigo with a $500 deductible, according to Sochocki.
She said there have been a number of people who want to help out KPD, including Arizona Going Blue, which is a citizens’ group that supports law enforcement officers and first responders in Arizona as well as across the country.
Its Facebook page shows plenty of pictures of Amigo, and AGB is currently involved in a fundraiser for the KPD.
“(Amigo) was imported by me for Kingman Police Department from Germany. He was a fine dog and seemed to click with his new handler,” said Kevin Sheldahl, an instructor at K-9 Services in Edgewood, N.M.
“He was a top performer in class as was his handler. It is a sad loss. Some of these dogs will literally work until they drop,” said Sheldahl. “They are stoic creatures that live to work. We are lucky to have them.”
Officer Simonsen had “no fault” in Amigo’s death, said Dr. Paula Acer, DVM, at Cerbat Cliffs Animal Hospital. “I want to make sure that is clear.”
“As a community we’re going to miss him,” said Acer, who met with the KPD after Amigo’s death. Doctors at the animal hospital tend to the canines who work for KPD, giving them shots and check-ups. All of the doctors plan to go to the memorial, she said.
“The whole police force is just devastated,” said Acer.
Sochocki said the KPD was looking into supplying handlers with IVs for their dogs and even vests that hold cold packs as part of a first aid kit for canines.
“We are always looking at ways to improve,” said Sochocki. “We strive to improve the service that we provide.”