O'FALLON, Mo. - Fighting back tears, police from the St. Louis-area gave a final salute to one of their own Thursday, as Woodson Terrace K9 Bart was diagnosed with cancer and was put to sleep at a local animal hospital.
More than two dozen handlers and their K9 partners were on-site to offer their support and salute Bart. A final roll call was also given to honor the German Shepherd.
Lt. David DeGonia, who has trained and worked with police dogs for more than three decades, said the bond between human and canine officer is powerful.
“It affects everybody. It affects the department. People you train with. The family, because he’s part of the family. So yes, it affects a lot of people,” he said.
DeGonia shared pictures of the three K9s he worked with, including a charming photo of Bart at a K9 birthday party.
The grief was apparent among all officers present Thursday, especially Bart’s partner, Woodson Terrace Sgt. James Simonpietri.
Bart and Simonpietri worked together for more than seven years.
KTVI-TV was first introduced to Bart at a national K9 training workshop in Eureka in 2016.
Bart stole the show, showing his talents as a narcotics dog.
He will be missed, DeGonia said. DeGonia attended the solemn sendoff Thursday.
“We want to give him a final farewell,” he said.