Modesto City Council to Decide if Fallen Sergeant’s Family Can Keep Trained K9

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MODESTO -- The city of Modesto is faced with the decision of allowing fallen Sgt. Mike Pershall’s family to keep the canine he trained.

They were the tag team known affectionately as Mike and Ike, and now the Modesto City Council is set to decide during tomorrow night’s meeting whether K9 Ike will be allowed to retire and continue to live with the Pershall family -- a decision both the police department and K9 Association are rooting for.

It is often said that a dog is man’s best friend. For K9 handlers, the bond is even deeper.

"We spend more time with our dogs then we do our spouses [and] our children. We have a very unique relationship with our dogs that most people will not understand," said Daniel Starr, president of theModesto Police Canine Association.

That connection is often extending to the family of the handler.

As far as the family is concerned, for a lot of us, the dog is like an additional child. There is an additional level of comfort that these dogs provide to our families.

For the family of Sgt. Mike Pershall, who died in August when he was hit from behind by suspected drunk driver Matthew Gibbs while riding his bike on Merle Avenue, Ike is a part of the family, one they do not want to lose.

"The thought is that it’s such a big loss to the family and the community, to keep the dog with the family, so that they don’t suffer another loss," Heather Graves with the Modesto Police Department said.

Modesto PD and the Modesto Police Canine Association are now pushing for Ike to retire from his duties for the department, instead of giving Ike to another handler. This would allow the Pershall family to purchase the 3-year-old pup for $1, a common practice for dogs that are retired when they get older or have a medical issues.

"Because of the circumstances, obviously you look at the totality of it and we want to take into consideration everything that is going on, the family, the dog, the environment, the community and we want to make the best decision for everyone involved," Graves said.

On Tuesday, Modesto City Council will make the deciding vote, one that would allow Ike to stay with the only family he's ever known, a glimmer of light for a family that has been through a time of mourning -- a family looking to hold on to its memories of Mike and Ike.

"[Ike's] commands were in French, so it was always fun always [to see] Mike try to give commands in French, try to learn them. He messed them up during the initial training phase but they were a good team. We were all looking forward to seeing Ike long term, but with that said, this is the right move to allow the Pershall family to see K9 Ike and retain him as a member of their family. So, we are happy to see that," Starr said.

The canine association says it will help out the family with whatever costs Ike would require.