A K-9 with an impressive resume that includes responding to more than 1,000 radio calls and surviving a stabbing earlier this year was given a sendoff fit for a hero as he retires from the El Cajon Police Department.
K-9 Jester has a lifetime of belly rubs and treats to look forward to after serving the East County community since March 2016. The Belgian Malinois was honored during Tuesday’s city council meeting.
“It’s a very big day. It’s a day I’ve been dreading but I knew it was coming,” Officer Gray said. “He’s my best friend and this is the best job that I’ve ever had but all good things need to come to an end, though.”
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The pooch was met with roaring applause after his handlers, Officer Randall Gray and Sgt. Mike Murphy, reminisced on his decorated past. During his years of service, Jester performed 465 building searches, 121 high risk stops, 45 narcotic searches and assisted with 197 arrests.
His work didn’t come without risk, however, and Jester came dangerously close to being seriously hurt earlier this year.
On June 1, authorities were alerted of a man slashing car tires near Roanoke Avenue and East Park Avenue. The suspect, who was later identified as Rani Alrais, then ran into a nearby high school. Jester was deployed to the scene and was stabbed in the throat by the suspect. Despite the injury, the K-9 refused to let go of Alrais and officers were ultimately able to arrest him.
Following the heroic act, Jester was treated for his life-threatening injury at the Pet Emergency and Specialty Center. He made a remarkable recovery and was placed back on duty three weeks later.
It’s a rough moment Gray doesn’t like to think about too much but did say he admires Jester’s commitment to his duty.
“You accept that just like us as officers, any position in the field that you may be called on to put your life on the line to save someone else, it’s no different for him,” Gray said. “So, given the circumstances of that day, and the circumstances of that call, it was his day to try to save some lives and if that meant putting his own in jeopardy, then, unfortunately, so be it. Luckily, everything worked out OK.”
With Jester now retired and being able to live his life as other dogs, Gray said he’ll fondly remember the times he spent with his K-9 partner.
“I like to honestly think about, honestly, just every day,” he said. “Waking up, coming downstairs and seeing him in his crate getting excited to go to work, watching him spin in circles, throwing him in the car and just for 10 hours a day, driving around and having my best friend with me. That’s really the memory I’m going to keep the most.”