Wood River K9 officer takes final patrol alongside his partner - KMOV.com

Wood River K9 officer takes final patrol alongside his partner

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Community members said goodbye to Degen, a K9 officer who gave his life to the Wood River and East Alton communities. Credit: KMOV Community members said goodbye to Degen, a K9 officer who gave his life to the Wood River and East Alton communities. Credit: KMOV
WOOD RIVER (KMOV.com) -

Community members said goodbye to a K9 officer who gave his life to the Wood River and East Alton communities.

“People look at them as dogs and pets, but they’re more than that. They are our family,” said handler Mike Young.

Wood River Officer Young and almost 10-year-old Degen have worked together for five years. They started out at the East Alton Police Department and then moved to Wood River.

Degen served eight years among both communities and Wednesday was the end of his watch.

An aggressive form of cancer began to set in over the past few weeks and a decision was made it was best to put him down. 

His handler said they’ve been doing the best to show their appreciation.

“He's had ice cream pizza. I ordered him four-piece chicken strip meal from Dairy Queen, steak, he's had it all,” said Young.

On Wednesday a crowd gathered at the Wood River Police Department where Degen got into his squad car one last time. He was given a hero’s escort to Hawthorne Animal Hospital in Glen Carbon.

Along the way, the community saluted him and held signs.

“It was important not only to show respect for Michael but for Degen too, for all the things he’s done. He’s protected our son and protected our community,” said Denise Young.

At the animal hospital, fellow K9 Officers lined the sidewalk as Degen took his final steps inside.

The animal hospital said Degen will be privately cremated and the ashes will be returned to the family.

Hawthorne Animal Hospital said it pays for vet care for seven local K9 Officers including the Wood River, Glen Carbon, and Litchfield Police Departments. The care is from birth to death.

It is partly funded through the nonprofit Angel Fund which was launched in February. To date, it’s covered $8,532 in vet bills for police canine units and other agencies like The Tree House Wildlife Sanctuary in Dow.

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