The Genesee County Sheriff’s Office bid farewell to one of its own on Friday when Officer K-9 Destro, an eight year old German Shepherd, died after a short battle with cancer at the Cornell University Companion Animal Hospital.
Destro had been with the Sheriff’s Office since August 2013 and worked up until the Sunday before his death. The next day, he became ill and was diagnosed with a systemic cancer after he began to bleed internally following a spleen removal.
Destro worked alongside Deputy Sheriff Chris Erion, who remembered his four-legged partner as “a public servant” in an email to The Sun. Erion also applauded the Cornell University Companion Animal Hospital for their work in trying to save Destro in his last few days.
“I could not have been more confident in the staff and students at the Cornell ER from the moment I walked through those doors the first time,” Erion said. “I knew it was the best place for Destro. If there was a good outcome for Destro I knew it would be found in Ithaca, it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Erion said watching the staff and students professional and caring treatment of Destro led him to offer Destro’s body for learning if he did not make it.
“I mentioned to one of the doctors that if he didn’t make it, and if they could get some use, I would like them to utilize his body for learning,” Erion said.
Following his passing, Destro’s body was made available for studying and learning for Cornell veterinary students. While he doesn’t know how Destro’s body will be used, Erion said he has “no doubt it is useful, productive for learning, and done with respect and humanity.”
Once the Cornell veterinary students are finished with the body, Destro will return to the Erion family home to be cremated and buried.
Erion described Destro’s life, like his death, as both “fast and furious.”
“Destro was an awesome ambassador for the Sheriff’s Office,” Erion wrote. “The public loved him, and we took on community service requests at every practical opportunity. He was very social with people and I think loved it more than the public did.”
Despite his friendly and social presence, Destro could turn fierce when on a mission, according to Erion.
“Destro was always friendly and fun, but he could switch gears in a moment to be the full-on predator that he was trained to be,” Erion said. “His favorite task, by far, was locating people.”
Destro was trained to locate narcotics, evidence and articles, as well as either apprehend a subject or protect an individual.
In 2018, Destro found three people on a mini crime spree, a suspect following a vehicle pursuit and crash and a man who had broken into a home and beat, stabbed and robbed the elderly. According to Erion, “a lot of the criminals he found would likely have gone unidentified otherwise.”
A GoFundMe has been created to help the Sheriff’s Office with the expenses of a new K9 Unit. All funds will go directly to the feeding, care and veterinary bills for the dogs.