Members of the Hinesville Police Department on Monday went to Carter Funeral Home in Hinesville to remember “Officer Brad,” a K-9 member of the force. The 6-1/2-year-old German shepherd dual-purpose drug-patrol dog was euthanized June 29 after it tripped and fell off of its handler’s porch, shattering its front right leg.
The injury was inoperable and left the dog in excruciating pain, according to Officer Tony Durham, Brad’s handler.
The veterinarian orthopedic surgeon who treated Brad told the Durhams that the dog “never would have been better than what he was.” The K-9, who also had hip dysplasia, would have had to wear a sling for eight to 10 weeks. The surgeon believed the fracture may have been the result of cancer; however, no biopsy was performed.
Brad was about to be medically retired.
Durham, along with his wife, made the decision to have Brad euthanized.
“I knew if I kept him in the condition he was in, it would be selfish of me,” Durham said.
Brad also suffered with pain from two bulging disks in his back, the result of an accident the two were involved in last year when they were hit from behind by a drunk driver in Long County.
“It was the hardest decision I’ve had to make. He was my partner and my friend. I would spend anywhere between 60 to 80 hours (a week) with him — more time than I spent with my own family,” Durham said.
Brad was cremated, and his remains were placed at the front of the funeral home’s chapel. HPD Officer Robert Smith was one of two people from the audience who spoke to the gathered mourners.
“Even though he had four legs, a tail and a very long snout, he was still a fellow officer. Like his first handler, Mark, Brad will always be remembered,” Smith said.
Brad became HPD’s first K-9 officer in October 2008. His handler at that time was Mark Matthews, who passed away in 2011. Durham became Brad’s handler, and the two worked narcotics, burglary and murder cases during the past two years. The last case the pair worked was the shooting death of a Fort Stewart soldier during a home invasion.