PALM HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) – While dozens of law enforcement officers gathered in Palm Harbor on Tuesday afternoon to honor fallen canines, they couldn’t help but think about the three fallen brothers, lost in the first three months of this year.
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Kilian says the weight has been heavy.
“You’re like, wow, that could be any one of us. That could be any one of us,” said Sgt. Kilian. “And it’s the reality of our business. The reality of our job.”
The ceremony took place at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens Pet Cemetary in Palm Harbor. There are close to 60 dogs interred at the cemetery. Three canines were added to the memorial and were remembered. Retired Corporal Kevin Andress’ canine Riggs was one of them.
Andress addressed the crowd and thanked them for their service.
“It’s a very difficult time to do this job as a police officer and a K-9 handler,” said Andress. “So I give you guys all the props in the world. Stay safe. “
Andress, who now lives in Colorado with his wife, has also reflected on the loss of law enforcement lives in Tampa Bay. “Even though I don’t do it any more, I know so many people here,” said Andress.
“So many people with Clearwater, Pinellas Park, other agencies in Pinellas County, and you think about them and all you do is hope that they make it home to see their loved ones. “
Sgt. Kilian says he has this piece of advice for his colleagues.
“I always tell my people, after our deputy was killed in the line of duty, honor him by doing a good job. Honor him by being a true professional,” said Sgt. Kilian. “Train hard and be a good cop. Be the cop you want responding to your house. “