Police officers from dog teams across Flanders gathered in Knokke-Heist at the coast this morning to form a guard of honour in tribute to Drago and Blue, the two police dogs killed in a serious road accident last Sunday.
The two police dogs were in a van on its way to an incident when it collided with another vehicle pulling out of a hotel car park. Both vehicles were thrown against a tree with the impact. The two police officers and all three persons in the other car were slightly injured. But one of the two police dogs was dead on impact, and the other died shortly after at the scene.
In the aftermath of the accident, the local police received hundreds of emails and other messages of support from dog-lovers, and the station opened a condolences book. “It’s been a blow for us in the police force,” said division chief Steve Desmet. “We consider our dogs as colleagues. Drago and Blue had been with us a long time. Apart from that, they lived with one of our colleagues.”
The news hit home hard at dog teams across the region, some 100 of whom turned up this morning for the ceremony, which was not open to the public. Kenneth Verlinden, a dog trainer at the police base at Oostkamp near Bruges, explained why to the VRT.
“We start with a puppy eight weeks old, and train him up to a fully-fledged police dog. He stays with us 24 hours a day. He goes to work with us, and he goes home afterwards with us. And while we’re working he’s our partner. We don’t have a colleague, we have a dog. And we have to be able to rely on our dog completely. That’s why the bond between a canine officer and his dog is so strong.”