K9s United charity holds fundraiser for police dogs of First Coast

Organizers focus on special bond between officers and K9 partners

JSO K9 Fang killed in line of duty

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – A First Coast nonprofit held an event Saturday to raise money for police K9s. Handlers attended with their K9s to demonstrate to the community how valuable these trained dogs are to police officers.

A former handler talked about the recent death of his K-9 partner Fang, who died in the line of duty.

Fang was shot to death by a carjacking suspect Sept. 30 and K-9 officers said they want to see harsher punishment for those who kill K9s.

"These dogs (are) killed for no reason. If you’re not violating the law, these dogs won’t come after you anyway, so there’s no reason for it. It’s harsh," said former K9 handler Nick Vieria.

He was at the charity event with his retired K-9 Zeke.

"These dogs are so capable. There's so much camaraderie that comes with them. The bond is so strong, and the ability to find these missing people, find these wanted criminals, to work these dogs it’s just a great tool to have," Vieria said.

He said his thoughts are with the officer who lost Fang, because there is a lot of grief that comes with losing a K-9, since that dog is a partner, pet and family member. 

"It's hard. People don’t really understand the bond that goes on between a handler and a dog. This dog spent more time with us and our families. (They) are home with us, they work with us and (are) then with us 24 hours a day, for the most part," said Vieria.

K9s United started after St. Johns County K-9 Baron, was killed four years ago. Now, with Fang's death , the group is hoping to continue to bring awareness to benefit these dogs in law enforcement agencies. 

About the Authors: