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WATCH: Pima County Sheriff's Department pays tribute to fallen K9 Kenzo

'K9 Kenzo embodied everything it means to be man's best friend'
Posted at 1:31 PM, Nov 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-16 15:31:45-05

TUCSON, AZ — Pima County Sheriff's Department is paying tribute Thursday morning to K9 Kenzo, who fell in the line of duty in late October.

K9 Kenzo was killed while searching for a suspect connected to an armed robbery. He began his duty with PCSD in January of 2022.

The full service is available to watch in the video player above.

Speaking at the memorial service, K9 Unit Supervisor Sgt. Erick Maldonado said he is often asked about the best and worst aspects of his job as a K9 handler: "The answer is pretty simple. It's the bond, and the goodbye."

"It's the strength of that bond that makes saying goodbye so incredibly difficult," Maldonado said during the service. "The foundation of the bond between a K9 handler and their animal is built on a two-way street of mutual trust and respect."

That bond, Maldonado eulogized, "becomes unbreakable, transcending the boundaries of life and death."

Kenzo's handler Deputy Christopher Rodriguez spoke at the end of the service: "This has been one of the hardest things I've ever had to endure. Kenzo was my friend, my partner and my protector. He fought for us that night so that we could go home safely."

Rodriguez thanked the community for their outpouring of support in the days since Kenzo's death. His remembrance highlighted the tight-knit nature of the PCSD K9 community in providing support not only during the days following Kenzo's death, but in bringing together the memorial service.

"Lastly, thank you Kenzo. I am grateful for your sacrifice...I will see you again, my friend."