Police, firefighters and EMS from across Oklahoma gathered at the Muskogee Police Department range as they laid a fallen canine officer to rest.
Muskogee Police said they were overwhelmed by the amount of support from the community who showed up to back the blue. Cars lined the streets for a procession followed by a funeral to honor K-9 Officer Oli, who died July 1 after tracking training.
Muskogee officers said Oli shouldn't just be remembered as a police pup, but as a man's best friend. K-9 Officer Oli, 4 years old, had been with the Muskogee Police Department since July of 2018. For two years he served in the line of duty and protected Oklahomans. Police said 2 years was too short.
Officer Taylor Hignite was Oli’s Muskogee Canine Handler. Hignite said he is beyond grateful for the turnout at Oli’s service.
"It brought me to tears as I was escorting him through for his last ride with me,” said Officer Hignite. “When I saw the American flag hung over Okmulgee right there in front of the Civic Center that the fire department had and all of the community."
After completing a short track at the Muskogee Police Department range, Officer Taylor Hignite put Oli in his air-conditioned patrol car. A few minutes later, he found Oli unresponsive.
"He was a partner. He was a best friend to me. I couldn't ask for a better dog starting out,” Officer Hignite said.
Officers tried to revive Oli and cool him down. They then took Oli to the Tulsa Emergency Animal Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
“I just asked for a simple service and all the officers here that came together for this went above and beyond,” said Officer Hignite. “[…] I've received numerous cards in the mail all the way from Michigan."
Muskogee P.I.O Lynn Hamlin said the bond between Oli and Officer Hignite was unbreakable.
"They train after hours; they have to feed them. They have to exercise them,” said Officer Hamlin. “So, it's a 24-hour assignment and they don't ever go without their canines."
Officer Hignite said Oli may have looked fierce, but he loved fiercely too.
“He knew when to do business and when we were at home," Officer Hignite said.
Police said they don't know yet if heat played a role in Oli's death.