K-9 keeps working in wake of partner Officer Craig Lehner's death

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Buffalo Police Officer Craig Lehner loved his K-9 police dog, Shield.

The pair began working together last September, spending hours together every day training in a South Buffalo agility park.

The pair was inseparable, Buffalo Police K-9 Commander Salvatore Losi said Tuesday.

“Craig infused into that dog his own personality,” Losi said. “That dog is fiercely loyal.”

When Lehner, also a member of the Buffalo Police Underwater Recovery Team, was participating in a routine training in the Niagara River on Friday, Shield was patiently waiting for him in his air-conditioned kennel in the patrol car.

Losi was there when the frantic search for Lehner began. He said he was nervous to let Shield out of the patrol car, since most K-9s only listen to their handlers.

“As soon as I opened the door, [Shield] knocks me out of the way, and goes down to the river and starts searching,” Losi said. “It chokes you up.”

“He sensed that something was wrong,” Losi added.

Because of Lehner’s training, Shield will likely remain a member of the Buffalo Police Department’s K-9 force.

Lehner’s family wants the department to find Shield a dedicated partner, like Lehner, Losi said, but it won’t be easy.

“We should not be able to work him the way we did,” Losi said. “If the definition of professionalism is no matter what the circumstances are, then the dog certainly reflects that.”

Shield is named after Officer James Shields, who was killed in a car crash 15 years ago this month.


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