When Sgt. Mike Pershall was killed while riding his bicycle by a suspected drunk driver, he left not only a wife and two kids but his police dog, Ike.
The Belgian Malinois had been Pershall's K-9 partner at the Modesto Police Department for two years. Ike is only 3 years old — in the prime of his working days — but Police Chief Galen Carroll thought something felt wrong about leaving the family without their family pet when they had already lost a husband and father.
The idea of giving Ike to the family couldn't have been popular with everyone — after all, the trained dog cost $9,137 — but Carroll asked Modesto City Council anyway.
"It is not a good deal for the police department to lose the dog," Carroll told The Modesto Bee. "But there is also the human factor of, you have a wife and two kids who just lost their dad, and that’s the family dog. What is the right thing to do?"
There was no question. The city council voted 7-0 to sell Ike to the Pershall family for $1.
Community rallies behind the idea
Members of the community have offered to donate to help pay for the police department's next K-9 officer.
Several residents spoke at the city council meeting, showing support for leaving Ike with his family, reports KCRA.
"For my part, I will help the K-9 association fundraise to cover the costs," one woman said. "If it costs a dollar, I have a dollar. And if it costs $10,000 for another dog, I will do my part to help fundraise so that the Pershall family can have Ike and he can be with them for the rest of his life."
City council members showed support for Ike's retirement.
"Given the amount of service and the dedication that Sgt. Pershall and his family showed to keep the citizens safe, it's the very least we can do to help bring comfort to the family," council member Tony Madrigal said. "It's another way of us saying 'thank you' to Sgt. Pershall and his family for everything they did for our public safety here in Modesto."
Ike and the Pershall family were not at the meeting. Pershall's wife had asked that Ike be allowed to stay at home because he had only recently stopped crying at night.
Modesto Police Canine Association president and K-9 handler Daniel Starr told the Bee that the association "absolutely, without a shadow of doubt, supports giving Ike to Pershall's family."
"We spend more time with our dogs than we do with our wives and kids ... so there is a bond there that no one understands unless they are currently or have been a K9 handler," Starr said. "But the dogs spend a significant amount of time with our wives and children as well, and there is a significant amount of comfort they bring (to our families) because they know the dogs protect us while we are at work."