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'She will be remembered as a hero;' Police mourn West Jordan K-9 officer 'Maya'

Posted at 10:52 PM, Feb 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 11:48:32-05

WEST JORDAN, Utah — A K9 killed during the line of duty was remembered by those she served with Friday.

“(Police Service Dog) Maya and her handler both joined the West Jordan Police Department in 2018.” Officer Samuel Winkler said.“A loving dog and just loved police work. And every day when she came to the office, she would run around to the different officers just asking for attention. She really did love to work.”

The community owes a lot to her service as she was a highly decorated K-9 officer.

“To the community, she was tracking down violent felon suspects that needed to be arrested..” Winkler said.“She was finding narcotics on a regular basis as she went out to community events and interacted with the public.”

READ: Suspect in West Jordan shooting was state corrections officer, member of Utah National Guard

So on Thursday when she was tasked with taking down a suspect, she charged in without hesitation.

“She did save the lives of those officers that night and she will be remembered as a hero” Winler told FOX 13 News Friday afternoon.

The suspect, Zachary Alveranga, was shot at by eight officers with several different departments, dying on scene.

Those eight officers, including Maya’s handler, are being placed on administrative leave but are alive because of her sacrifice.

“I can only imagine that type of grief that the whole family is going through,” Corporal Rod Elmer told FOX 13 News.

Elmer is a K-9 handler and trainer with the Utah Highway Patrol and knows the bond with a dog a police K-9 handler has.

“I haven't experienced anything like it,” Elmer said Friday. “Not only do they go to work and spend our work time with us then we take them home and they interact with our families.”

So as the city of West Jordan along with the entire state mourns the loss of a hero, the West Jordan police department is remembering their loyal friend.

“Well, any kind of dog it becomes a member of your family whether it's the handler's dog who lives with that dog 24/7,” Winkler said adding that “any of us who worked with her in the office and came by wanting her loves every day.”

Her funeral will be held on February 28th at 11 a.m.

While it will be a private ceremony, the community is asked to line the streets to show support for this fallen K-9 officer.

We will let you know the location and route her procession will take when it is released.