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Last week, more than 1,000 people, including hundreds of police officers from adjacent states, turned out at a funeral in rural Kentucky to pay their respects to Jason Ellis, a 33-year-old K-9 officer who was mowed down in what authorities believe was an ambush. Fido, Ellis’ police dog, was also present at the funeral, placing his paw on the closed casket. This touching moment was captured in a devastating image by photographer Jonathan Palmer.

Ellis’ slaying remains unresolved, but dozens of fellow K-9 officers attended the funeral and their canines could be heard howling from their cruisers. Hundreds of officers jerked to attention when the honor guard was summoned, and the 60 or so police dogs at the ceremony barked with the sound of the guards’ 21-gun salute.

Ellis, a six-year veteran of the police force, was remembered by Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin, who vowed to chase down the killer. “I’m your chief, Jason, but you’re our hero, and you need to know that this chief will not back down,” McCubbin added. “Jason, my friend, rest easy. We’ve got it from here.”

Ellis is survived by his wife, Amy, and two boys, Hunter, 7, and Parker, 6. “He paid the ultimate sacrifice doing what he loved, being a police officer,” McCubbin added.

The image of Fido placing his paw on Ellis’ casket is a poignant reminder of the special bond that exists between a police officer and their K-9 partner. These dogs are not just animals; they are loyal companions who put their lives on the line every day to protect their human partners and serve their communities.

Jason Ellis’ death is a tragic loss for his family, friends, and colleagues, but it is also a reminder of the sacrifices that police officers make every day to keep our communities safe. We owe it to them to honor their service, support their families, and never forget their sacrifice.