Craig Day, News On 6
DELAWARE COUNTY -- A special memorial service was held Thursday for a canine officer who died from cancer after being exposed to meth chemicals.
Chico was remembered for bravery, loyalty, hard work, and the bond between him and his handler.
"One that when he come out, he was ready to work," Robert Rowley, Delaware County Undersheriff, said.
Deputy Steve Brownell lost a partner and friend.
"He was my boy. He was my partner. He was there with me every day," Steve Brownell, Delaware County Deputy, said.
All these people are here to honor Chico, a canine officer who had been with the department since 2007.
"It's tough on everybody. It very well is, he will be missed very much so," Undersheriff Rowley said.
Chico developed cancer after being exposed to chemicals at a meth house. Round after round of chemo didn't work. His condition worsened and he had to be euthanized.
"I took him there and sat him down, said my goodbyes and I walked out," Brownell said.
It's the most difficult thing Brownell has ever had to do. Losing Chico is hard, not only on Brownell, but also his wife and children. There is always an attachment, but in this case, that bond is like few others.
"Me and that dog went through a lot. Went through a lot," Brownell said.
Chico was with Brownell the night the deputy was shot and damaged his teeth trying to get out of his cage and to his partners side. That led to extensive dental work, paid for with donations raised from a community that rallied around Chico.
"We never spent one county dollar, one taxpayer's dollar for his treatment. It was all done through the help and support of the community," Rowley said.
That hurdle was cleared and Chico returned to duty, but then came the cancer. It finally was too much.
During his service with the Sheriff's Office, Chico took part in more than 100 vehicle searches. He also helped search for missing people like Alzheimer's patients and children.