By: Jen Russon
Within just a few days of each other, two service dogs who proudly served with the Coral Springs Police crossed over the rainbow bridge after their handlers made the painful decision to put them down.
As saddened as they were to make one last trip to the vet, Officers Eric Jomant and Scott Levin agreed the deaths were bittersweet, since both dogs appeared to find joy in retirement from law enforcement.
“Bandit loved playing with my kids, jumping in our pool and riding with me on my airboat,” said Officer Eric Jomant, adding he will spread his dog’s ashes over the Everglades where the pair could often be found.
Bandit was a 13-year-old Belgian Malinois breed and had spent a decade-long career responding to in-progress felonies that required an array of specialized skills.
Having retired from those adrenaline-pumping days in early 2016, Officer Jomant’s K-9 lived as a pet in his Coral Springs home, with Jomant’s wife and two children, who are just three and six-years-old.
He said when the bad news came over Easter weekend Bandit had inoperable cancer, the veterinarians at Coral Springs Animal Hospital said it was time for the Jomant Family to say their goodbyes.
At Riverside Animal Hospital not five miles away, another CSPD officer was getting the same kind of heartbreaking news.
Officer Scott Levin, who currently works on a K-9 team with his dog Victor, said the family pet they lost this week, “Spike,” was the first canine he trained with at the start of his career more than ten years ago.
The pair went through 540 hours of academy training together, after a K-9 team trainer decided on the paring, thinking Levin and Spike made a great team.
On Monday, Spike succumbed to a long battle with a genetic disorder that made it hard for the Dutch Shepard to control his body temperature. Levin said Spike’s health problems necessitated an early retirement.
This, coupled with a temporary move to an apartment with pet restrictions, made it, so Levin had to adopt Spike out to his trusted friend and former colleague, Ryan Pearlman.
“It was supposed to be a temporary arrangement, but when I was ready to take Spike back, Ryan said, ‘you are not getting this dog back,’” Levin joked.
His laughter faded when he shared how torn up his friend is to have lost his best friend.
Levin said that in Spike’s full life, he traveled all over the county by car with Ryan Pearlman, tromped through the snow, on mountain paths and beaches, occasionally visiting classrooms full of children, who loved his chilled-out personality.
“We spend more time with our police dogs than with our own families,” he said. “They take on the personality of their handlers, and Spike was like me – just a really laid back dog.”
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- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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