updated 06/02/2013 AT 11:00 AM ET
•originally published 06/02/2013 AT 12:00 PM ET
Plymouth, Mass. officers lined the sidewalks Friday to bid farewell – and pay their respects – to their beloved police dog Kaiser as handler Jamie LeBretton walked his four-legged sidekick past the saluting crowd and into Court Street Animal Hospital.
The solemn sendoff came following Wednesday’s announcement that Kaiser would be retiring from the force – and ultimately laid to rest to end his suffering after his recent diagnosis of severe liver and kidney disease.
“I could not have asked for a better partner or friend. May you rest easy and wait for me at that sacred bridge. I will be there my friend,” LeBretton wrote on Facebook Friday, sharing a photo of his devoted dog.
“I will never forget you or our accomplishments. You made me a better person, a better handler, and a better cop. Till we meet again Kai. I love you and will miss you daily.”
LeBretton also took time to acknowledge his fellow “boys in blue” for their show of support during the difficult and “heart-wrenching” day.
“Never in my career have I ever been so proud. You outdid yourselves today. I could not have asked for a better send-off,” he says. “Kaiser truly was part of the department and loved being a police dog.”
He continues, “My fellow K-9 handlers, you are a cut above and showed everyone what being a handler is all about … our pups.”
The 2½-year-old German Shepard was partnered with LeBretton in September 2011, after his protective personality led a local family to donate the dog to the force. “Kaiser taught me more about myself and my profession than I could have ever taught him,” LeBretton says.
“I feel privileged to have had a front row seat to witness his bravery and heroic actions while serving the people of Plymouth and my brothers and sisters in blue. Although his career was short-lived, he made a huge impact that will never be forgotten.”