Pittsburgh Citizens Heartbroken After Loss of Fallen K-9 Officer

Rocco, local K9 officer, was killed in the line of duty while helping to apprehend a wanted fugitive in the Pittsburgh area.

Rocco, local K9 officer, was killed in the line of duty while helping to apprehend a wanted fugitive in the Pittsburgh area.

With a heavy heart, the citizens of Pittsburgh said their final goodbyes to one brave police officer, Rocco, a K-9 officer to the Pittsburgh police force.

Eight-year-old Rocco was stabbed in the back, along with four other policemen, by John Rush. Rush was said to be one of Pittsburgh’s most wanted fugitives and was finally taken into custody last Tuesday January, 28. Rush was wanted for probation violations and refusing to register as a sex offender.

Canine Rocco died at 6:17 p.m. Thursday at the Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center in Ohio Township “after a good fight,” Zone 2 Cmdr. Eric Holmes told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Hopes for Rocco’s recovery had grown Thursday. Around 8:30 a.m., police spokeswoman Diane Richard said Rocco was resting while his blood count improved. Four hours later, she said he had been upgraded from critical to serious condition. He had begun resting on his sternum rather than on his side, she said. However, as the day went on, Rocco’s condition grew worse. He suffered from internal bleeding and pneumonia which led to his demise. Rocco gave in to his injuries and was not euthanized.

Later that evening, Pittsburgh police officers, K-9 handlers, and the dogs themselves made a path way for Rocco. Police carried him out on a stretcher with an American flag draped over it. A retired officer played the bagpipes, and officers had their arms present.

A procession with K-9 units, motorcycles, and cruises left the veterinary hospital and made their way Downtown and then to Oak Crest Pet Crematory, on Cemetery Lane in Ross. Rocco’s body will remain at Oak Crest while arrangements are made for a ceremony.

As the story of Rocco’s struggle unfolded Thursday, scores of people expressed their feelings on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s website.

Wrote one man, “It is a sad and painful day for those of us with feeling for animals and those that love them. I am crushed to hear the sad news. God bless his handler and his family and all who cared for this precious and unique boy. They shall be in the thoughts of caring people in the days to come. We are newly reminded of the danger that our human and K-9 officers face, that their lives are on the line every day as they deal with the criminal element.”

A woman wrote, “My thoughts and prayers go out to Rocco’s handler, family, friends and the entire City of Pittsburgh Police Department for the loss of fallen Officer K-9 Rocco in the line of duty.”

The citizens of Pittsburgh were hit hard with the news of Rocco’s death. He will always be a remembered as a great officer and a strong dog.