WESTERVILLE, Ohio — When Westerville officer Eric Joering, 39, responded to reports of a 911 hang-up call at an apartment, his K9 partner, Sam, was also in the vehicle.
Shortly after arriving at the apartment Saturday, Joering and Officer Tony Morelli, 54, were shot and killed. Sam had served alongside Joering for nearly two years and was still in the back of the vehicle when the shooting took place.
Tuesday, the FOP said it was decided Sam would be retired, instead of training with a new handler, and would go to live with Joering's wife and young daughters. FOP President Jason Pappas said it will take a resolution by Westerville city government to officially make it happen.
Currently, Sam is staying with the owner of Storm Dog Tactical, where he trained for his position with the Westerville Police Department. Mike Pennington says Sam is doing well considering the situation, and wants to play and join the other dogs in training, but they are keeping an eye on him for any signs of stress.
Pennington also says he's taken Sam to see the family a few times, and he's become a comfort to them. Other Westerville officers have also visited Sam, who has become a bit of therapy as they grieve the deaths of their friends in the line of duty.
On Tuesday night, officials said a memorial would be built in Westerville in honor of Officers Joering and Morelli at First Responders Park.