Hundreds attend service for slain K9 deputy

Shannon Litz/Nevada Appeal News Service Will Lynch, with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard, carries Jon-Jon's ashes out of the building following the memorial service at the Douglas County Fairgrounds Friday.

Shannon Litz/Nevada Appeal News Service Will Lynch, with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office Honor Guard, carries Jon-Jon's ashes out of the building following the memorial service at the Douglas County Fairgrounds Friday.

Deputy Rick Koontz said he was overwhelmed by the more than 600 people and 50 patrol dogs who came Friday to pay final respects to his partner Jon-Jon, the sheriff's office drug-detecting dog killed three weeks ago in a patrol car fire.

"We're just so touched," he said. "I held up pretty good. I told myself I was not going to cry, but, of course, I did."

The veteran deputy said he felt Jon-Jon deserved the honor.

Sheriff Ron Pierini agreed, saying Jon-Jon was responsible for more than 400 finds of various narcotics.

"He never received a paycheck. He never asked for benefits or special privileges," Pierini said. "Does one ever know his real impact? That he prevented one person from driving under the influence of drugs? That he stopped one child from the terrible abuse of the drug-use lifestyle?"

The memorial service attracted law enforcement personnel and K9 officers from nearly every agency in Nevada, and from as far away as San Francisco and Idaho.

Law enforcement officers formed a two-mile-long, 100-vehicle motorcade that passed through Minden and Gardnerville on the trip from the sheriff's office to the fairgrounds south of Gardnerville.

"It stretched as far back as you could see in the rear-view mirror," said Sgt. Joe Duffy, who is a dog handler for the department and helped organize Jon-Jon's service.

Kirk Gillaspey, a Douglas County Search and Rescue volunteer, brought Abby, a 17-month-old German shepherd being trained for tracking, air scenting and evidence search.

"My heart goes out to Deputy Koontz, what he went through and what he'll go through - the silence of the car, no hustle and bustle without Jon-Jon," Gillaspey said.

Pete Nelson, pastor of Carson Valley United Methodist Church, said that since Jon-Jon's death he had been asked how he was going to eulogize a dog and if Jon-Jon went to heaven.

"I said yes," Nelson said. "You eulogize a soul, the same as anyone else."

The sheriff's office honor guard carried Jon-Jon's urn to Koontz's patrol car at the conclusion of the memorial service.

"We commend his remains to Deputy Koontz assured that Jon-Jon is resting in arms that cradle him even more tenderly than Rick's through all eternity," Nelson said.

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