Havre de Grace leaders paid tribute Tuesday to Beny, a long-serving police K9 officer who died last week after he was admitted to emergency care at a local veterinary hospital.
“He was an outstanding active duty law enforcement service dog; he’s probably one of the best I’ve ever seen,” Police Chief Teresa Walter said during the City Council meeting Tuesday evening. “He has served the City of Havre de Grace and the citizens fabulously.”
Beny, 11, was taken to the hospital last Thursday for various health issues. The veterinarians determined it would be in the dog’s best interest to put him to sleep, according to Walter.
She told city leaders that Beny had been “very, very loyal” to his handler, Cpl. Brian Daniels, and that the pair had been “inseparable.” Beny had been part of “our police department family” since April of 2008 — the chief said later that he came to the department when he was about a year old.
“For us, he was like a police officer,” she said.
She expressed thanks for the emails, cards, letters and flowers that have been delivered to the police department since Beny’s passing, and she thanked Mayor William T. Martin for lowering the city flag to half staff and lighting up downtown in the dog’s honor.
Up-lights, which can be found at City Hall and around downtown and are lit different colors depending on the occasion, were lit blue last week in Beny’s honor, according to the City of Havre de Grace Facebook page.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Havre de Grace Police Department and Officer Beny’s partner, Cpl. Daniels,” the mayor said in a statement posted on the city website and Facebook page. “K-9 Beny was responsible for many arrests and for helping to place many criminals behind bars.”
Beny was an active-duty member of the department when he passed away, so “absolutely, we lower the flag in respect to an officer,” Martin said during Tuesday’s meeting.
The mayor said K9 officers are “peers” of their human officers.
“They don’t walk, they run into danger,” Martin said. “They run at a person with a weapon; they run at a person who is trying to evade justice.”
The mayor expressed his “condolences and deep sympathies” to Daniels, Beny’s handler, and Daniels’ family.
Council members David Martin and Jim Ringsaker also expressed their sympathies.
Ringsaker said that “my heart goes out to” Daniels, whom he said is a friend.
Martin, a retired Maryland State Police trooper, touched on the importance of K9 support for law enforcement officers and other first responders, saying canines, like firefighters, run toward danger and protect their fellow officers.
“The police officers are dedicated their K9s, but K9s are dedicated to all, so Beny will be missed,” he said.
The police department has a young K9, Ikar. Walter said she has put in a request for a second dog, although the city is still in the early stages of drafting its budget for the 2020 fiscal year.