Fallen Westerville officer's K9 partner will retire, live with Joering family

Fallen Westerville police Officer Eric Joering's K9, Sam.

On Tuesday afternoon, Westerville City Council decided it was "imperative" to retire fallen police officer Eric Joering's K9 partner, Sam, and send the dog to live with Joering's wife and the couple's three young daughters.

Westerville Police Chief Joe Morbitzer said the dog's therapeutic value to the family is immeasurable.

"You've got three little girls that are hurting real bad. This is an opportunity for them to heal just a little bit," Chief Morbitzer said.

Sam's trainer, Mike Pennington of Storm Dog Tactical, responded to the scene of the deadly shooting Saturday to take Sam back to the training facility. He said it was clear the K9 was distressed.

"You could tell he knew something. Like, there's a lot of things that just happened. I don't really know what they are," said Pennington, who added the dog relaxed a little when he picked up on his trainer's familiar scent.

"You could see ahhhh. He understood. He decompressed right there. It was somebody he knew that he trusted. I hooked him and took him out of the car, he jumped up on me like thanks," Pennington said.

The K9 trainer said Sam has visited with the Joering family every day and has done some training to keep him decompressed.

Joering said Officer Joering's service as a K9 Officer was "a calling" and he said he will always remember Joering as an "all in" guy.

"He didn't do anything at 90-percent. It was 100-percent, or he wouldn't do it," Joering said. "Every day that Eric was in that uniform, he was all in."

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