A memorial service with full honors is planned next week for a Wise County Sheriff’s Department K-9 killed on duty.
Deputy Pepper, a Dutch Shepherd, was shot by a suspect Wednesday after the dog found the man hiding under a pile of leaves, Wise County Sheriff David Walker said.
Police in Bowie first tried to stop suspect Alan Alverson, 49, and officers from several agencies followed him south to Wise County on Highway 287.
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Sheriff Walker said Alverson bailed out of his vehicle, ran into a wooded area and Pepper led officers into the woods to find the suspect.
Walker said officers returned fire, killing Alverson after the suspect shot the dog.
Records show Alverson had a long criminal history. He was wanted for additional charges in Wise and Tarrant counties at the time of the shooting.
Pepper had only been on the street in regular duty for several weeks after completing months of training.
“We really give Pepper the credit of saving five law enforcement officers lives,” Walker said. “Unfortunately, it cost Pepper his life.”
Tarrant County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Tindel is the K-9 handler of a 6-year-old Belgian Melinois named Duke.
Tindel said he understands the loss Wise County deputies are feeling.
“He’s like a kid to me,” Tindel said about his partner, Duke. “I don’t have kids but I consider him just like one.”
Tindel spends more time with his K-9 partner than he would with a human partner because Tindel and Duke go home together.
“We go to work together and then we go home together and it’s like a big kid. I’m responsible for everything that he gets into and making sure that’s he’s fed and watered,” Tindel said.
They face danger together, too.
“On traffic stops, we’re not sure what we’re dealing with,” said Tindel. “A lot of times the people may have weapons.”
Outside the Wise County Sheriff’s Office in Decatur, flowers now cover the hood of Deputy Pepper’s handler’s vehicle as people grieve over the loss of the canine public servant.
“It definitely has a somber mood around the office,” Walker said. “Pepper is a part of our department and we will do a memorial service for him in full honor as if it was one of us.”
The service will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 4, at Grace Fellowship Church located at 2964 HWY 114 in Paradise, Texas.