Sgt. Michael Spitaleri, a police officer with the Clearwater Police Department in Clearwater, Florida, had to do the most difficult thing he had ever done in his career as a police officer. He had to put down his former K-9 partner, Major, after more than six years of service with the city.
Spitaleri wrote the most touching and fitting tribute a police officer can write to one of his own. And it was posted on the Clearwater Police Department Facebook page, showing the police department’s followers his anguish in having to make the hard decision for his sick partner and friend.
Major, one of our beloved former K9s, had to be put down today. He served the Clearwater Police Department and the city…
Spitaleri starts the tribute by saying it was the most difficult day of his career and he was hurting far more than he had anticipated, noting that he already missed his K-9 partner.
He then goes back to when the two met and mentions how he had his doubts about the dog he described at first as small and timid.
“I honestly didn’t know if you had what it took to be a police dog,” he wrote. “Nonetheless, we started K-9 school together in November of 2008. I quickly learned my initial assessment was wrong.”
Major turned out to be a loyal and fearless partner, apprehending bad guys, locating illegal drugs and firearms and honing his skills and ability over the course of the partnership. Spitaleri wrote to Major, telling him he made him look like a superstar yet the truth was that he was “nothing more than the guy who held your leash.”
Spitaleri wrote about how the SWAT team would train with Major and oftentimes team members would find a place to hide in a corner somewhere because they called the K-9 “crazy.” And how he would call out “K-4” on the radio and Major would start barking so loud the dispatchers couldn’t hear anything Spitaleri had to say.
Spitaleri wrote about how he felt bad having to retire Major in 2014 due to the dog’s medical condition, and how Major went from the police force to protecting his family.
The letter ends with Spitaleri’s profession of love for Major, and he tells the K-9 that when he gets to heaven, he should find a police officer and let that officer know he is a police dog reporting for duty.