A K9 officer who served the communities of East Alton and Wood River, Ill., for eight years was laid to rest on Wednesday.
Ten-year-old Degen and his handler, Mike Young, worked side-by-side for five years, KMOV.com reported. But after Degen’s cancer began to worsen over the past few weeks, Young had to make the heart wrenching decision to put him down—but not before Degen had all of his favorite treats.
“He’s had ice cream pizza. I ordered him four-piece chicken strip meal from Dairy Queen, steak, he’s had it all,” Young told KMOV.com.
A crowd gathered at the Wood River Police Department to say goodbye to Degen before he was given a hero’s escort to an animal hospital located in Glen Carbon, Ill.
People saluted the K9 officer and held signs as the squad car drove away, according to KMOV.com.
When Degen arrived at the animal hospital, his fellow K9 officers lined the sidewalk as he entered the building.
“People look at them as dogs and pets, but they’re more than that. They are our family,” Young said.
Degen was privately cremated and his ashes will be returned to his family, according to KMOV.com.