Richwood K-9 Officer Klink took his final cruiser ride Monday afternoon. In failing health, Klink was carried into the Woodside Veterinary Hospital by his handler, officer Eric Nicholson. Klink was shrouded in a Blue Lives Matter flag as he was carried into the building where he was euthanized.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillion)
Klink liked to work.
Many times, when his handler, Richwood K-9 Officer Eric Nicholson, would look for the dog, he would be inside the police cruise, ready to go.
“He was always ready to go to work,” said Richwood Police Chief Monte Asher. “That was his cruiser and he would even sleep in it a lot of times.”
Monday afternoon, Klink took his final ride in the cruiser he loved so much. With more than a dozen police dogs lined up with their handlers and other law enforcement officials, Nicholson carried Klink from the cruiser into the Woodside Veterinary Hospital where the 10-year officer was euthanized.
“It was good to get him away from his pain” Asher said.
Klink came to Richwood through funds raised from the Brandy Winfield Memorial Poker Run. Brandy Winfield was a Marion County Deputy who was killed in the line of duty in 2004.
Richwood Village Council Member George Showater said he remembered the night Winfield’s widdow, Sara, asked if the village would like another K-9 officer, after have at least two others in the past.
Asher said he was very excited about the idea, but it came with a condition — Sara Winfield wanted her children to name the dog.
“They were coming up with names like ‘Cupcake’ and things,” Asher said. “Thank God Sara was able to get them to name him after Brandy.”
He explained that Brandy Winfield’s nickname was Klink.
Born in Czechoslovakia and trained at Castle’s K-9, Asher said the dog’s impact was noticed quickly. He recalled a police drug stop somewhere in the county. The driver had a note instructing him to avoid Richwood because the village had a K-9 officer.
“That proved, right there, that having a dog on staff kept drugs out of our town,” Asher said.
Showater said Richwood got a reputation as a place drug runners didn’t want to come. He said it is difficult to know the full impact a police dog can have in a small community.
“It has been a god-send to have one,” he said. “The community that has one can feel safer when they go to bed at night, when they leave their homes.”
Asher said Klink was, “a very good tracker, a good drug dog, just a good all-around dog.”
He said that often as Nicholson would complete paperwork, Klink would slip out the back door and go to the cruiser, ready for business. But Klink had another side as well.
“He was all play. He loved people. You could approach him. The kids could come up and play with him,” Asher said. “But, when he was ready to work, he would be ready to work. He didn’t slow down when he was working.”
In addition to being a good crime dog, Showater said Klink was “important not only to the police, but to the population as a whole.”
“They aren’t just a dog, they are a member of the community,” Showalter said.
The councilman said equally important has been the commitment by the handlers. He explained that a K-9 officer is with his partner 24 hours a day.
“We have been very fortunate that we have had officers that have the commitment, that have had no problem taking the dog and bringing that dog into their family,” Showalter said.
Last year, Klink’s heath, specifically his back legs, began to fail. It was decided that he would be retired from duty. Veterinarians said he didn’t have much time, but therapy extended his life Asher said.
Showater said 12 years is about the life expectancy for a police dog like Klink.
Earlier this year, Klink’s health rapidly deteriorated and a decision was made to put him to sleep.
“It was hard on a lot of us,” Asher said.
The chief said his department has appreciated support from so many community members and law enforcement officials.
“When something goes bad, we know we are all one big family,” Asher said. “We are all one big team. We are all doing the same thing.”
Plain City Police Chief Dale McKee said K-9 officers are even closer than most officers.
“To me, a K-9 group is a special team,” McKee said. “They are all very close and they work together. It takes a special group of men and women who do what they do.”
Asher said he hopes to the village will be able add another dog to the department soon.
“But first, we want to let this sink in a bit,” Asher said.
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