Onyx, a puppy that belonged to fallen Tecumseh police officer Justin Terney, now has his narcotics certification and works in Pottawatomie County as a K-9.
And thanks to a recent grant and other donations, Onyx now has a patrol car equipped just for him, as well as a heat alarm to keep him safe during hot summers.
After Terney was shot and killed in the line of duty in March 2017, the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office made arrangements with the Tecumseh Police Department and in Tecumseh’s honor to provide a K-9 handler for Onyx.
With help from the Shawnee Police Department and its K-9 handlers, Onyx has undergone training to become a narcotics dog and he completed his CLEET certification for narcotics detection in October 2017.
His handler, Deputy Jared Strand, said the Pottawatomie County Sheriff's Office was one of five agencies in the nation to receive a grant recently from the National Police Dog Foundation.
The grant funded a K-9 heat alarm, a device intended to keep Onyx safe despite the hot summers in Oklahoma.
While patrol cars are left running with air conditioning on if a dog is inside, there's always a worry something could happen to the cooling unit or vehicle motor if the officer has to be inside for any length of time, which could put the K-9 at risk.
The heat alarm is there to help save Onyx's life should the unthinkable happen.
“If the temperature in the car gets above 80, it will activate the lights and sirens...and will drop the rear window,” Strand said. “It's a neat system and ensures the dog's safety.”
The heat alarm costs about $1,200 but was funded through the grant.
The heat alarm works perfectly with another donation that benefits Onyx.
Strand said the The University of Oklahoma Police Department donated one of its 2007 model Chevrolet Tahoe K-9 units to the Pottawatomie County Sheriff's Office.
The patrol unit was fully equipped for a dog and ready to go. And thanks to Terney's fellow officers at CLEET, Onyx has received another donation to help with his care.
After Terney was killed in the line of duty, a fundraising effort was held by his CLEET classmates for some type of memorial in his honor to be placed in Ada. But when the Tecumseh Police Department decided to put up a monument that was unveiled this week in front of the police station, Strand said the classmates decided to donate the $500 they had raised to the K-9 program for Onyx instead.
And while Terney acquired Onyx as a puppy and hoped to one day work the streets with him, Onyx has been able to continue Terney's dream.
In his first days on the job, he alerted to marijuana and methamphetamine during a traffic stop, and just last month, he made a two-pound marijuana bust.
“He's out here doing what Justin wanted him to do,” Strand said.
Onyx, who serves all of Pottawatomie County, has been utilized by the sheriff's office throughout Pottawatomie County and has been requested to help McLoud and Tecumseh police, and even Shawnee.
And while Terney's death was heartbreaking, Strand said he is honored to be handling Onyx and continuing the plans the young officer had for the K-9.
Strand and Onyx, a Malinois breed, also have formed a great bond.
Onyx, who is 16-months-old, is still growing, Strand said, but is a bundle of energy and ready to go to work whenever he sees Strand putting on his uniform.
“He starts spinning circles,” Strand said.
“Every time we get drugs off the street, that's Justin working through him,” Strand said.
Malinois dogs are bred to be an energetic, working dog specializing in odor detection, and Onyx is that, but he's also subtle when needed.
“He's a little T-Rex wrapped inside a dog,” Strand said.