Deceased drug dog to be honored Friday
MINDEN – With all the ceremony accorded to his human colleagues in the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Jon-Jon, the department’s beloved K9 officer, is to be honored Friday for sacrificing his life in the line of duty.
Law enforcement officers and their K9 counterparts from as far away as Idaho are expected to attend memorial services Friday that include a motorcade from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office to the county fairgrounds and eulogies from Sheriff Ron Pierini and two dog trainers.
Jon-Jon, a 5-year-old black Labrador retriever, died Feb. 3 in a patrol car fire while his handler, Deputy Rick Koontz, was investigating an early morning building alarm.
Despite the deputy’s attempts to rescue the dog, Jon-Jon died of smoke inhalation.
Since the dog’s death, there has been an outpouring of community support for Koontz and his family who provided a home for Jon-Jon in addition to training.
Jon-Jon was trained to detect narcotics. When he wasn’t on a case, Koontz made frequent visits to elementary schools where the dog was befriended by the students.
Many of the children sent condolences to the officer and his family.
Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Tom Mezzetta invited the community to attend Friday’s service, which will include benediction by sheriff’s office Chaplain Pete Nelson, pastor of Carson Valley United Methodist Church.
“The loss of a canine officer touches people,” Mezzetta said. “I’ve heard of similar situations where hundreds of people show up to pay their respects.”
He said the sheriff’s office has been contacted by more than 20 law enforcement agencies who hoped to send representatives and their K9 officers.
They include Carson City, Reno and Sparks police departments, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Nevada Division of Prisons, three agencies in Idaho, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, San Diego, San Francisco, South San Francisco, Las Vegas, Sacramento, California and Nevada highway patrol units and the Mesquite police department.
“I imagine every off-duty officer in Douglas County will try to attend,” Mezzetta said. “For some of them – those who work graveyard – it’s their sleep time. But I expect they will be there.”
The East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts are to form an arch with their ladder trucks at the intersection of Waterloo Lane and Highway 395.
Jon-Jon is to be honored with the department’s Silver Cross medal which will be presented to Koontz and his family along with a flag and plaque.
Staging for the ceremony is to begin at noon at the Minden station.
The funeral procession is to begin at 12:30 p.m. and proceed south on Highway 395 to Pine Nut Road and proceed to the fairgrounds for the ceremony.
Once the procession arrives, all K-9 handlers and uniformed law enforcement personnel are to form a column on each side of the entrance into the fairgrounds.
Uniformed officers and K-9 handlers are to sit their dogs and come to attention.
Other participants include the sheriff’s office Honor Guard and bagpiper Rick James who will play “Amazing Grace.”
A Douglas High School choir is to sing the National Anthem.
At the conclusion, the honor guard will escort Jon-Jon’s urn out of the building and it will be placed on the passenger seat of Koontz’s patrol car.
The public is invited to stay for refreshments after the service.
If you go
A memorial service is set for 1 p.m. Friday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds for Jon-Jon, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office K9 officer killed Feb. 3 in a patrol car fire. The ceremony will be preceded by a motorcade down Highway 395 to Pine Nut Road that begins at 12:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend the service.
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