Our Mission and Our Inspiration
Baron was killed by a known felon that he was pursuing On October 7, 2014 in a St. Johns County swamp. Learning of the tragedy along with the grim details of the Sheriff’s Office canine deputy’s death, moved Debbie Johnson to tears. She turned her grief into inspiration and realized that she could do more for the K9s that serve and protect us.
Debbie started by taking a Civilian Law Enforcement Academy classes to learn about the department and its budget needs. She also met Baron’s handler, Deputy Farrah Ashe. “We think it is outstanding that someone would take such an interest and be captivated by a tragedy that we suffered as an agency,” Kelshaw said. “That she also went to our academy and got an inside look at what we do as an agency and is willing to help us is outstanding.”
Debbie then took the next step in her journey and started K9s United...
K9s United is committed to honoring and supporting the K9s of law enforcement agencies that detect and protect.
K9s United is a predominantly volunteer based organization that has a vision to fill the needs of K9 units while providing our K9 Heroes the best equipment, amenities, and quality of life during and after their service while memorializes those that gave the ultimate sacrifice.
These are our core competencies...
These are our core competencies...
Who We Serve
Currently K9s United serves Law Enforcement/SAR K9s and their Units throughout the United States.
Baron To Be Honored
The original call was a domestic dispute in St. Johns County, FL.The suspect was identified and determined to have an active warrant for the sale of narcotics. A convicted felon and known drug dealer, he had avoided capture for five months. When police arrived, the suspect fled on foot.
Officer Farrah Ashe and her K-9 partner, Baron, were deployed to track down the fleeing suspect. Eagerly, Baron tracked the suspect through the neighborhood, between houses, around a retention pond, and then stopped at a 6-foot fence that was too high for him to get over. Baron was helped over the fence and Officer Ashe and her back up followed.
The officers realized that they were inside a fenced-in nursery and the tracking activity turned into an area search. Baron was let off the leash and he immediately signaled that the suspect was in the area. Baron headed for the suspect and Officer Ashe lost sight of him, so she searched for him, calling his name. Baron ran around the corner, heeding the call, but kept looking back toward the area where he had just come from. Officer Ashe knew that meant the suspect was nearby, so she gave Baron the command to keep searching and the officer headed that direction.
“When I reached the area where he was, I was at the far side of the Nursery from where I started,” Officer Ashe said. “I heard a human grunt on the other side of the fence, which was a wooded lot. It was very dark so I couldn’t see where they were, nor did I hear any more noise. The fence on that side was a four-foot wire fence with a strip of barbed wire across the top.
“I scaled the flimsy fence and started to walk toward where I heard the grunt. My back up deputy was having trouble getting over the fence because it was so flimsy and he was carrying a rifle. I went back to assist him which took probably 20-30 seconds. Once he was over, I began calling for Baron to come back to me. I called him three times and heard and saw nothing. He has never taken more than three commands to return to me. I called a fourth time and activated a beep tone on his collar which he is trained to return to me if he hears. He still did not return. This all took place within a minute or so.”
Officer Ashe went through the swampy, wooded area searching with a flashlight through the brush. Her light was reflected back by Baron’s eyes and she ran to him. Baron was lying halfway in a mud puddle, not breathing, and she quickly pulled him out and began CPR. Her back-up arrived and they maneuvered Baron under a fence and into a patrol car, where Officer Ashe continued CPR until they arrived at the emergency veterinarian hospital. Despite several minutes of trying to resuscitate him, Baron was gone. It was later determined that he was asphyxiated by the mud.
Officer Ashe said police believe that Baron followed the suspect and grabbed him on the rear end (where marks were later found on the suspect.) The suspect began to fight with the dog and Baron’s harness slipped off. The suspect apparently pushed Baron’s head into the mud, causing him to inhale the mud until unconscious. Then the suspect fled.
Officer Ashe picks up the rest of the story:
“Several K-9s and deputies searched for the suspect. It was later determined he fled far from that area and called for a ride. US Marshals were called in to locate the suspect. A few days later, the suspect turned himself in to the Marshals, at a church, while holding a child. He was secured without incident.”
“Baron had only been on the streets for 13 months when he lost his life,” office Ashe said. “He had participated in bomb sniffs at the Daytona 500 and Pepsi 400 in Daytona Beach, FL and The Player’s Championship Golf Tournament in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. He had been on only a few real tracks and the night he died was his first Apprehension/Engagement of a suspect. He was just starting to get in his groove and was flawless that night with his track, area search, and apprehension of the suspect where he jumped a four-foot barbed wire fence on his own.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of him,” she said.