VERMILION, Ohio - Up to 500 people are expected to attend a Saturday service for a fallen K9 officer named Andy.
The German Shepherd unexpectedly died during a routine training exercise. The K9's death came as tragic blow to the Vermilion and other area police departments.
"The thing understand is, when you get these dogs, you have to train with them ... you're at home with them as a family pet, but these dogs are also tools. They're with you all of the time at work and you can put your lives in their hands, these dogs are trained to protect their handlers," said Vermilion Police Chief, Christopher Hartung.
He spoke directly to the relationship a police officer of a K9 Unit has with their K9 partner.
The Vermilion K9 fell to his death Tuesday night during a "catch the bad guy" type of exercise. No one saw the incident. In a police report, officers noted Andy somehow lost his balance and fell through a hole in a 3rd floor door of the old Sandusky building where the exercise was being held.
"He somehow ended up on a small roof overhang and ended up falling approximately two stories on to the roof of a separate substructure," said Hartung.
The K9 broke his back. His handler, Corporal Scott Holmes, was able to reach the dog and fought to resuscitate him, but the K9 succumb to his injuries.
"I can only imagine what Officer Holmes is going through," said Sandusky Police Officer, Adam West. West and his K9, Justice, where both there training Tuesday night when the accident happened.
"It's heartbreaking," said West, "it's like, you know, one of your family members passing. There's no words to explain. It's an unspoken bond you have with these dogs."
Vermilion police officers said Andy was with the department for more than a year and played a vital role in tracking-down suspects and illegal drugs. Andy was also the face of community outreach, helping to teach kids about safety.
"Cpl. Holmes is just absolutely devastated. I mean this is like losing a member of his family and the feelings have to be comparable," said Hartung.
The chief said a Saturday service will be held at the Vermilion Elementary School starting at 11 a.m.