HARTSDALE, N.Y. -- Police K-9 teams from Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties, Connecticut and New York City joined their comrades from the Greenburgh Police Department Tuesday for the funeral of veteran K-9 Officer Patriot at the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery.
Bagpipes cried as more than two dozen K-9 officers and their partner dogs walked to to the grave sight in a solemn procession as more than 100 police officers, friends and other honored the Greenburgh Police dog, who died last week at age 12.
Patriot's longtime partner and friend Detective Wayne Papovitch read a eulogy and thanked the department, the community, family and friends and the Hartsdale Pet Cemetery for providing a final resting place for Patriot.
"He was a great police officer and even better friend," Papovitch said. "We grew together and became an effective team over nine years. But, Patriot was a bit part of my life. He took a bit of me with him when he died."
Patriot, a German Shepherd, who worked Papovitch from 2002 until being retired in 2010. He was named by the second-grade class at Sacred Heart School in Hartsdale in a contest. The name was a tribute to those who perished in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Papovitch said Patriot has suffered from several ailments since retiring after a career that included numerous search-and-arrests. He was trained for patrol, tracking and narcotics detection, having made many successful “hits” on drug locations.
Det. Papovitch's wife, Renata Papovitch, said Patriot, who loved being with the family, was a beloved family member and companion to her husband and the couple's 2-year-old daughter.
"They were a great team on the job," she said. "They both made me so proud every time they came home and had done their job so well. But, to me and my daughter, Patriot was a sweet wonderful friend. We loved him... he knew that. And we always felt safe and protected."
The Hartsdale Pet Cemetery has made a commitment to maintain Patriot's grave with perpetual care and a permanent memorial of flowers.
"The community has been so supportive, along with Chief (Joseph) DeCarlo and the department, in helping Patriot and with our work," Det. Papovitch said. "I want to thank everyone for him and me."