A memorial service for Mercer County K-9 Zak will be held on Monday at Celina Dog Park at 7pm. Attendees are encourage to bring their own candle. The vigil is billed as peaceful with no negativity. The dog died Wednesday, August 1st of heat exposure after being left in a patrol unit for an extend amount of time. The handler and officer was working on paper work inside the office regarding an earlier accident. Organizers indicate there will be a eulogy and reflection upon Zaks service to the community. Attendees are welcome to bring their own dogs but they must be leashed and follow all dog park rules.
Sheriff' Jeff Grey says his officers will not be attending the service as not to be a distraction. Grey plans holding a Monday Morning news briefing about his investigation and whether there was any wrong doing on behalf of the officer or equipment failure of patrol unit. Grey issued a letter to the community explaning his departments position.
Due to the very high emotions surrounding the death of K9 Zak, I have communicated with the organizers of this remembrance, Lori Taylor and Maria Suhr, that the Sheriff's Office employees will not be attendance. Both were very understanding of my position and I assisted them by providing a bio of Zak and a statement from me.
I decided that the circumstances of Zak's death and with the announcements to come on Monday morning, that our attendance may be a distraction. Lori and Maria have the best of intentions and I admire their role in organizing this and encourage the community to attend. The Sheriff's Office is planning a private remembrance for our employees only.
Since the announcement of Zak's death, my office has been inundated with hateful phone calls and emails from across the United States. It is disappointing that citizens of this great country would resort to those tactics. While constructive criticism and frustration in what happened is everyone's right, I was certainly taken back by the hateful nature of some.
Lori and Maria want to celebrate and remember Zak and my concern is that my attendance or attendance of members of my office may incite some who disagree with my decision on Monday. I will be happy to share my statement that will be read at the remembrance.
I just felt that the citizens of Mercer County deserved an explanation from me and Zak deserves a Vigil without distraction.
Mercer County Sheriff