Sheriff's deputies say fate is behind K9's emotional journey home


Franklin County Sheriff's Deputies said when they selected the newest member of the K9 team, they had no idea the dog had taken a long and winding road paved with coincidence to journey home.

Sheriff's deputies said from the very start there was just something special about Gator, a Blue Dutch Shepherd.

"It was drive. His personality," said Corporal Jeff Valentine.

Deputies had visited the trainer they work with and selected a dog to fill the empty spot on the team but said that dog had medical issues.

Deputies said that left them scrambling for another K9 so they decided to roll the dice a little and try a new trainer.

"A guy we've never used before. A guy I've never met," said Corporal Valentine.

Deputies decided to bring Gator back home to Franklin County. Like proud parents, the K9 handlers posted a video of Gator on social media. The post caught the attention of an Ohio Highway Patrol trooper.

"He contacted me and asked me where we got the dog from and I said southern Ohio. And he said, 'did you name the dog Gator, or was it already named Gator?' I said, 'it was already named Gator,'" said Corporal Valentine.

The trooper revealed Gator had once belonged to Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Steven Choy. Choy bought Gator as a puppy and dreamed he would grow up to be a working dog.

In September 2016, Deputy Choy was jogging when he suffered a heart attack and died.

Choy's family fulfilled his wish and sent Gator to a trainer in southern Ohio. Deputies said they were blown away as the pieces of the puzzle began to come together.

"I didn't believe it myself," said Corporal Valentine.

Deputies discovered that out of all the dogs in the world, they had unknowingly hand selected a fellow fallen deputies' dog and brought him right back home.

"We just happened to go down there and pick out that exact dog. Fate's the only way I can see it," said Corporal Valentine.

Call it a coincidence. Call it fate. Whatever force reunited Gator with his law enforcement family, he is now destined to follow in his 'daddy's' footsteps and carry on the mission to protect and serve.

"I couldn't think of a better tribute," said Corporal Valentine.