WACO, Texas — The Waco Independent School District is mourning the loss of one of its own after its police department announced Thursday that its K9 officer, Gero, died last December.
Lt. Jeff Freeman with the Waco ISD Police Department announced Gero's death on social media, saying "Gero will be sorely missed and has left a void that can’t be filled."
Gero began working as a K9 officer with the district in 2015 with Freeman, according to the post. This marked the second part of his career.
The first part of Gero's career started overseas after he was born in Holland. He trained overseas and was awarded the Veteran War Dog Recognition for his "heroic participation and personal dedication in direct support of combat" in Afghanistan, the post said.
In 2015, Waco ISD's Board of Trustees approved its first K9 officer program for the district. Freeman was selected out of many applicants to attend AMK9 Academy in Anniston, Alabama where he first met Gero and trained together.
In May that year, both Freeman and Gero were certified in fields of narcotics detection, article search, obedience and tracking, the post said. Gero began working for the district that same month.
"K9 Gero and I worked many hours together in the field of narcotics detection, prevention, and education," Freeman wrote. "Long hours were spent training to keep our skill set sharp. We also conducted many presentations for elementary schools in and out of Waco ISD."
Gero retired in July 2019 due to onset of hip dysplasia, the post said. He spent the remainder of his days living with Freeman.
"Gero was my protector on and off duty," Freeman said. "He guarded my family and our home, as I would. Gero enjoyed family vacations, playing with his toys, and our other family pets. He loved being scratched behind the ears and receiving back rubs. Gero will be sorely missed and has left a void that can’t be filled."