Community says final farewell to retired search-and-rescue K9 before he’s put down

PORTER, Ind. – A retired search-and-rescue K9 in northern Indiana got one final ride before he was put down on Wednesday.

Harley, an 8-year-old German shepherd, had been with Porter Fire Department Fire Chief Jay Craig since he was just 7-months-old. Craig told FOX59 his friend picked up the dog from an animal shelter in Kosciusko County, and Craig fell in love with him.

Craig took Harley through general obedience training and recognized he had the drive to go down the path of becoming a search-and-rescue dog—something Craig always wanted for the department. So Craig and Harley completed search-and-rescue training with the Department of Homeland Security.

Harley began working for the fire department on February 28, 2012. He was used as a “live find” search dog and he did that through trailing / tracking, wilderness area search, and building searches. He was also used by the Porter County search-and-rescue team and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security drown search team.

Harley had to retire from his role on May 1, 2017 after he was diagnosed with degenerative myopathy, which caused paralysis in his hind legs. Craig’s family cared for Harley after his retirement.

Harley’s health quickly deteriorated in recent weeks, and Craig told FOX59 he made the difficult decision to put Harley down.

Craig and Harley rode together Wednesday night in a final ride in the truck from the Porter Fire Department to Westchester Animal Clinic.

Some of the emergency officials from the surrounding community came out to say their final goodbyes to Harley.