Fiona given a hero's final send-off at Keesler

Fiona given a hero's final send-off at Keesler

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Military dog handlers, their dogs, and even civilian police officers stood in silence, a show of respect for a trusted member of the military who has passed on.

Fiona was euthanized this morning after suffering from an illness that could not be treated.

She was retired from active duty after serving in Guam, and came to Keesler with her handler and his family. Her final send-off was most deserved.

Linda Sumrall, with A Pet's Memory, provided the service free of charge. "This touches me in many, many ways. These military deserve the utmost respect and care and that's what we do at A Pet's Memory."

These dogs play deserve that respect because they play an important role in today's military. Staff Sgt. James Martin is a handler. "Some of their duties here include narcotic detection, explosive detection as well as patrol work around the base. They also deploy, they go TDY in support of the U.S. Secret Service, Martin explained.

He added a funeral service with full honors is always called for. "We don't treat the military working dog any different than we do our service members. To us, they are service members and when they do pass on, we give them the same respect."

Needless to say, when a military member leaves this world, it's a sad occasion. But it's just as sad when it's a military working dog, according to Martin. "Their handlers a lot of times spend more time with their military working dog than they do with their own families. And then of course, they retire and go home to a family and then they become part of the family, so it's always a tough loss."

A loss made more bearable recognizing the impact these dogs have on our lives and our safety.

Fiona was cremated, and her ashes given back to the family.

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