(KLTV) - The Smith County Pct. 5 office has a new K-9 officer, three months after theirs was shot and killed in the line of duty in January.
On January 19, K-9 officer Ogar was fatally shot chasing a suspect. The suspect, Michael Koch, was arrested four days later and is still in the Smith County jail.
But now, the search is finally over. The Smith County Pct. 5 office has welcomed K-9 Hunter to their K-9 unit.
"We tried several dogs, but this is the best dog for the K-9 handler," Smith County Pct. 5 Constable Kenneth Bibby said.
His handler, Deputy Kevin Petty, said that while he was heartbroken after Ogar's death, he is thankful to have Hunter as his new partner.
"It's emotionally bonding and this new dog; in time they, too, will have that bond as the previous K-9," Constable Bibby said.
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Hunter came from Pacesetter K9 in Liberty Hill, Texas. The owner, Brad Langham, said he is thankful to have found the right match for Deputy Petty.
"They depend on these dogs to find drugs and, you know, depend your life on them, so I mean it's a great thing. It's a great feeling to be able to help out how I could," Langham said.
It didn't cost the Pct. 5 office anything to get Hunter. That's because Miranda Lambert's MuttNation Foundation covered his purchase.
"We put the initial funding together and then we just made a mass appeal to her fans across the United States, to the citizens of Smith County and asked that they would match that donation. We were so thrilled when Kevin and Ken called and said we found the dog," Beverly Lambert, Miranda's mother and co-founder of the MuttNation Foundation, said.
And Constable Bibby said this donation will also save taxpayers money.
"Since MuttNation donated the dog, it gives us the opportunity to use our drug fund money to support the endeavors of the K-9 program without having to use tax funds," Constable Bibby explained.
"It's essential that we have the tools and elements, and he's one of our tools and elements, but [also] the protector for the Deputy while he's on patrol," he added.
And while everyone is looking forward to a new beginning with Hunter, they said Ogar will never be forgotten.
Deputy Petty said he is still getting adjusted to the new environment but has been doing well both at the office and with his family.