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Community honors fallen Stephens County K9 at memorial

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

DUNCAN, OK (KSWO) -The Stephens County community came together today to show their love and honor for a law enforcement dog, named Bak, who died last month while in the care of his handler, who has since been charged for the dog's death.

Prayers were read and balloons were released to the sky in the dog's honor during a memorial ceremony at Fuqua Park in Duncan. Investigators say he died from heat exhaustion after being left in a patrol car for 38 straight hours, with no water, food, or cool air.

His handler, former Stephens County deputy Matthew Peck is facing charges of one count of animal cruelty.

A Duncan resident and animal lover heard the news about Bak and was devastated. She decided to take action and honor Bak on her own. She spread the news on social media and called all her friends and family. None of them actually knew Bak personally, but they said they wanted to pay their respects to Bak because of the way he served and helped make their community a better place.


"If you think about how hot you get just being outside, what do you think that dog felt sitting in that car and dying it's very slow torturous death. This was an officer of the law. This wasn't just a German Shepherd dog. Any dogs life is precious  but this is an officer,” said Deborah Holden, former Duncan resident.

Still shocked and hurting is how some members of the community of Stephens County felt this morning as they gathered for today's ceremony.

"I cannot wrap my head around it. I have shed many, many tears over this and it has kept me awake at night,” said Robyn Willard, the host of the memorial.

Some still wondering how this could happen.

"Why wasn't he checked on? I just have so many questions. I think it's really hard,” said Holden.

Deborah Holden lived in Duncan for more than 30 years and says she grew up with a family that was very involved with the Stephens County law enforcement. She says the K-9's are very important to the community and should always be treated like family because they would do anything for the people around them.

"These dogs will trade their life for your life in a heartbeat.  They're responsible for apprehension of all kinds of things. Drugs, rapist, robbers, they're there on the scene,” said Holden.

Delana Huggins works for an animal rescue in Lawton and says she was heartbroken when she heard the news of Bak's passing. She says seeing people from all over Oklahoma come down to pay their respects for a fallen K-9 is touching.
 

"It's a blessing. I'm glad and I hope everyone who sees this will be happy that he's in our remembrance,” said Huggins.

Willard says she hopes people and other officers with K-9's will take away something from this tragedy to prevent it from happening again in the future.

 

"Be a buddy. Look after each other. Maybe do welfare checks on the dog. Just remind your other officers, you know, whenever it's hot. Please check on your dog. Don't leave them in the car unattended. Just pay a little bit more attention to the K-9's because they can't talk, we have to be their voice,” said Willard.

The Stephens County Sheriff's Department is also honoring Bak by engraving his name on the memorial in front of the Stephens County Courthouse.

Bak's handler, Matthew Peck is currently free on bond.  He will make his next court appearance on November 2nd. Peck was terminated from the sheriff's department as a result of the dog's death.

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