An Oklahoma City Police Officer whose K-9 partner, Kye, was killed last year in the line of duty, is now back on patrol. He has a new partner by his side.
It's been a long time for Sgt. Ryan Stark, but Wednesday night he and his new K-9 partner reported for duty.
“I can't replace Kye. Ever,” Stark said. “You can't replace somebody who's given their life for you.”
And you can't forget them either.
“After I lost Kye it was really difficult just being at home looking out back,” Stark said. “I couldn't go out back in my backyard for about a week and a half just because I didn't like seeing a kennel out there empty.”
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It wasn't easy, the bond stronger than any pet. Kye was a part of Sgt. Stark, and he still is.
“I've got Kye's ashes in my vest,” Stark said. “So every search I go on from now on for the rest of my career working a dog, Kye is still with me.”
Sgt. Stark is joined by a new set of eyes and ears, Kayne. And even Kayne carries a part of his handler's former partner. Every other letter in Kayne's name spells Kye.
“Once I got Kayne it really helped me mentally and emotionally,” Stark said.
It took Sgt. Stark two days to pick out Kayne from several other candidates. It was his drive and his demeanor that stuck out from the other dogs, characteristics Stark knows firsthand can save his life.
“When you're out there at 3 or 4 in the morning going through dark alleys and dark backyards looking for somebody who's armed with a gun or knife, you rely on your dog. He does things that no officers can do, no pieces of equipment can do, no technology,” Stark said.
From darkness here on Earth doing things only dogs can do, to one day someplace much brighter doing things only dogs dream to do.
“My daughter two days ago she was saying that she was pretty sure that up in heaven that God would throw Kye's ball for him,” Stark said.
Kayne is a two-year-old German Shepard and went through months of training for his debut on the streets.