Matt Jarrett still tears up when he takes about his late K-9 partner Magnum.
“The thing about Magnum that was different is he was more of a friend,” said Jarrett as he flipped through photos on his cell phone. “He was a family member to my family and a member of the police department.”
Last August, Jarrett, an Anderson police officer, and his dog, Magnum, were asleep on a Saturday morning when they got a call that a bank robber was running through Pendleton.
Jarrett and his partner responded and tracked the robber through a bean field.
“He ran into the wood line,” Jarrett recalled. “The dog followed after him. A short time later we heard one shot.”
The robber was arrested—and Jarrett found his partner with a bullet wound to the head.
“When I went there I saw a slight heartbeat,” Jarrett said. “I began giving him breaths, giving him chest compressions.”
Jarrett made the decision two days later to have his partner euthanized.
“What’s sad is that guy took that away from all of us,” said Jarrett as he discovered a photo of his son and Magnum playing baseball in the backyard.
Magnum was the second Anderson police dog to die in the line of duty last summer.
A month earlier, Marty Dullwurth’s dog Kilo was killed by a man with an assault rifle in Pendleton before taking his own life.
“He was so scared of my K-9 that that’s what his main target was instead of me and the three other officers behind,” the Anderson patrolman told a state senate committee. “He is no longer with us so he cannot make restitution.”
House Bill 1093 would require judges to make restitution part of any sentencing of a suspect who harms or kills a police dog.
Purchasing a European-born K-9, as most are, costs a local police department between $8,000 and $12,000.
It costs even more to make those dogs ready for the street.
“When you train these dogs, initially it’s going to cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 to make them compatible with the owner,” Anderson Police Lt. John Branson testified. “No matter what dog you get, you have to train the dog and the owner again with that dog.”
In Anderson, donations from the community helped the department get a new dog that is currently undergoing training.
Jarrett said a memorial inside Anderson police headquarters to honor Magnum and Kilo was removed because it was too painful for officers to be reminded of the sacrifices of their K-9 partners.
“They relied on him because he kept them safe. He goes out first to find the bad guy. He protects us all,” Jarrett said.
“Just like in the situation, I’m almost positive that if we had walked up on that guy and wouldn’t have had a dog to occupy him, he would’ve shot at us. There’s just no doubt in my mind.”