Panama Police are grieving the loss of one of their members. Their only K9 dog “Creed” was killed at his handler’s home last Sunday, according to police.
Panama Police say the two-year-old German Shepard was killed in the line of duty, while protecting the home of his handler, Sgt. Andy Bevil.
"I'd gone to church, got home about 8:30 p.m., went to feed and water my K9 again for the day, and found him deceased in his kennel," said Sgt. Bevil.
Investigators believe Creed was targeted because of his service with the police department. The investigation is ongoing.
"Not only is he my partner cause we spend countless hours training with the animal, but you know, he's part of the family," said Sgt. Bevil.
During his service with the community, Creed assisted in the search of illegal narcotics in Panama and Wister Schools, according to a release. The K9 was also successful in sniffing out narcotics on traffic stops and tracking suspects.
Sgt. Bevil says they don't know who is responsible for his death. At this time, they aren't releasing information about how the K9 died.
"That way if we do come up with a suspect and they know the exact details of what happened then that's a good lead for us to go on," said Sgt. Bevil.
The non-profit organization Ten-Four Ministries, which supports law enforcement agencies across the country, has partnered with a local business to offer a $1,000 reward for information to prosecute whoever is responsible for Creed’s death.
"Unfortunately, in the state of Oklahoma, the killing of a K9 is a misdemeanor charge," said Sgt. Bevil. "It carries jail time up to one year and $1,000 worth of fines."
Creed will receive full police honors during a memorial service to be held 11 a.m. Wednesday, August 15 at the Panama First Baptist Church.
Sgt. Bevil says it costs about $10,000 to purchase and train a new K9 dog. Since Creed was the only K9 serving in Panama, a fund has been set up by Ten-Four Ministries to provide the department with a new K9 and training. Click HERE to make a donation to the new K9 Dog.
Cherry Berry Yogurt in Fort Smith is also helping raise money to fund a new K9 for the department. According to manager Mason Yokey, 15% of sales Wednesday from 5 p.m. until close will be donated to Panama Police.
"People can come in and give donations if they want to and we'll just set that money aside and make sure it gets to the Panama Police Department," said Yokey.