FREMONT — When a retired Sandusky County Sheriff’s Office police dog died last year, friends of his boss and the German Shepherd wanted a special memorial for K-9 Brutus. While Brutus was escorted by other K-9 units and officers on his final journey, some felt he deserved more.
In 2011, K-9 Officer Brutus joined the Sandusky County Sheriff’s Department and teamed up with Detective Sgt. Brian Macgrady.
“His retirement was in 2018,” the detective said of his former four-legged friend. In his retirement, Brutus, a German Shepherd, lived with the McGrady family in Sandusky County.
“He had some medical issues,” McGrady recently said of the dog who had become a close part of the family — even included in a family portrait with the detective’s wife and children.
Just over a year ago, Detective McGrady made a tough decision about Brutus, and it was to take him to the vet and put the K-9 officer down. “We think he had a stroke,” McGrady said.
McGrady requested that a K-9 vehicle be used for Brutus’ final trip to the vet’s office. Deputies, supporters, and other K-9 officers gathered at McGrady’s home to escort Brutus on his final journey to Fremont.
When Brutus died in October 2021, his human family, officers and other friends were affected. One of those people was Sandusky County Dog Warden Kelly Pocock.
“When I spoke to McGrady, I told him I felt compelled to do something to remember K-9 Brutus,” she noted. “At first I had a lot of ideas. Then I saw an article about a company that made a custom coffin for a K-9 who was killed in the line of duty. This was something we could do to not only honor K- 9. Brutus, but we could use the coffin over the years at a memorial service for every K-9 in Sandusky County.
The K-9 Memorial Casket became a year-long project, but Pocock said the casket is ready and will be presented to area law enforcement for use.
McGrady said for now it will be stored at the sheriff’s office.
Pocock said that in order to achieve her ultimate goal of creating a memorial box, she first had to find a box.
“I called the crematorium that the kennel uses to ask where I could even start looking for a crate for a dog. I spoke to Todd Parker, from Paws & Remember, and once he heard what I wanted to do, he asked he would be eager if he could donate a casket to this cause.”
“My husband, Nathan Pocock, Sr., and I donated the money for the painting supplies,” she said.
“I had a very specific idea for how to paint the box. I asked my stepson, who is incredibly talented at painting cars, if there was anything he could do. He looked at everything and gave me an estimate of the cost of the supplies, but quickly told me he would donate all of the work to complete the painting portion of the project.
Nathan Pocock, Jr. and his wife, Taylor, provided the custom paint job.
“It’s breathtaking,” added Kelly Pocock.
But the memorial box needed a specialized interior, so the dog warden started looking for a craftsman. “Mike Cox called me right away, very interested in donating his skills to our project,” she noted. “Mike did a great job designing the inside to meet the needs of how I wanted the coffin to look while on display at a memorial. He designed it perfectly to include a portrait of K-9 , the urn and the K-9’s badge and armor.”
The child-sized memorial box looked so beautiful that Pocock became afraid it would be scratched or damaged if moved. “I called my brother, Ryan Askins, who works at Green Bay Packaging. He and Jeremy Velliquette got to work making a heavy box and donating it to keep the box safe and secure.”
McGrady said having the memorial box would make a big difference to a K-9 handler and his family as the dogs become a big part of their lives.
In Sandusky County, there are eight K-9 agents – in four law enforcement departments. The Fremont Police Department has two, the Sheriff’s Office has three, the Woodville Police Department has one, and the Clyde Police Department has two dogs. “All of the K-9s work together,” McGrady added, noting that departments outside of Sandusky County also work with their dogs.
“It’s something that can be used in the police community,” he said of the memorial box.
The sheriff’s detective said having a memorial box could make losing a K-9 law enforcement dog easier for officers and their families in the future.
He said that K-9 Brutus meant a lot to his three children and his wife. “It was a tough day for them,” he said of the last day they spent with Brutus.
Kelly Pocock added that she knows no one wanted to say goodbye to their partner and that behind the scenes she has seen the daily work and dedication of the dogs and their handlers.
“Our K-9 counselors literally put their lives in the hands of their partners and that’s a different, much deeper kind of bond. I just wanted to do something to honor them for their love, loyalty and dedication,” she said of the creating the memorial box in memory of Brutus.