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Tree and stone to commemorate K-9’s life

July 7, 2011
By J.T. Whitehouse
A procession of police vehicles, mostly K-9 units, reverently filed into Fair Park for a memorial ceremony June 28 that honored the life of one of Canfield’s finest. A stone was laid and a tree was planted to pay tribute to Zach, a K-9 officer that passed away in April from an unexpected illness.

“I think it is a great thing to provide a tribute for our dogs,” said Zach’s partner Officer Mike Sroka. “They do so much for law enforcement during their careers.”

Zach, officially named “Wolfe Zach” came from East Germany where he was bred and trained for law enforcement. When he came to the states, he was destined to be Sroka’s partner with the Canfield Police Department. Sroka and Zach spent six weeks in schooling before the two were set loose on patrol in October 2004.

“He was trained as a dual purpose dog,” Sroka said. “He did drug searches and was trained tracking and bite work.”

Zach worked for the Canfield department from 2004 to 2010 when he was retired. Sroka said normally a K-9 works five years and is then retired. Zach actually put in six years before he retired and he brought many good memories to Sroka.

“The most memorable was when we responded to North Jackson for fleeing car thieves,” Sroka said.

The theives had stolen a car and drove it into a wooded area. A mutual aid call went out for Canfield’s K-9 unit and Sroka and Zach responded. With Zach’s tracking ability, the thieves were quickly located and surrendered.

Sroka also noted the incident of the little lost boy in Beaver Township that he and Zach were called in on. He said Zach would have found him, but officers in a helicopter spotted the boy first.

Besides doing drug searches and other police work, Zach also enjoyed a good home life with Sroka. He was known to play and have fun with Sroka’s two family pets, a black pug named Porky and a brindle boxer named Lacey.

“They all played well together,” Sroka said.

On April 12 of this year, Zach passed away from an unexpected illness. He would have turned eight on June 7. Fellow Canfield officers and other law enforcement departments came together to raise funds for a memorial stone for Zach.

The Canfield Parks Department agreed to plant a tree in Zach’s honor at Fair Park. It was a fitting location because Zach was a friendly dog and kids loved him.

The tree, an autumn blaze maple was planted by the park department with the memorial stone resting at its base.

“It will have beautiful orange, yellow and red leaves in the fall,” said Park Board member Mark Eddy, who attended the ceremony.

To show that Zach’s spirit was among the gathering, Sroka brought his ashes in a polished wooden box and set them by the stone. Rev. Rebecca Richie from Lord of Life Lutheran Church, who serves in the departments Chaplin Unit gave the prayer and a reading during the ceremony.

At the end of the ceremony, Officer Chad DeBarr brought Thor close to the memorial and the fellow K-9 bowed reverently as if to say farewell to an old friend.

The memorial stone will remain at the base of the tree at Fair Park and will forever serve as a reminder of the dedication and hard work that Zach did for the City of Canfield.

The ceremony was attended by K-9 officers from the Sheriff’s Department, Austintown and Boardman, as well as Canfield’s other K-9 officer.

Article Photos

In attendance during a special ceremony on June 28 to pay tribute to Canfield K-9 Officer Zach were Eros with partner Brian Cionni from Boardman PD, Lars with partner Jeff Saluga from the Sheriff’s Department, Mercy with partner Larry McLaughlin from the Sheriff’s Department, Thor with partner Chad DeBarr from Canfield PD, and walking up to the rest, Neo with partner Chris Collins from Austintown PD.



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