NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- The Charleston County Aviation Authority (CCAA) is mourning the passing of the agency’s first K-9 Officer, Hector.
Canine Hector died earlier this month at the age of 10, officials said.
According to CCAA, Hector was born in the Czech Republic in May 2012 and brought to the United States shortly thereafter.
A little over a year later, Hector was united with his handler, Captain Jay Christmas, and together the pair worked on the dual-purpose police K-9 team for nearly a decade. Hector was certified in obedience, tracking, building search, apprehension, and narcotics detection through the North American Police Work Dog Association and the International Police Work Dog Association.
“Hector served our community for ten years and was a loving part of the of the Christmas family, K-9 community, and a vigilant defender of Charleston,” K9 Police Sergeant Michael DeRosa said.
As the first canine to be integrated within the Charleston County SWAT team, Hector was responsible for more than 15 safe resolutions to barricaded standoff situations, according to officials.
In 2020, Captain Christmas and Hector joined the CCAA and paved the way for a “growing and healthy” K-9 unit.
In addition, Hector competed with canines from across the nation on season 3 of America’s Top Dog, was an ambassador for the Aviation Authority and sheriff’s office at more than 800 community events, and served as dignitary protection for the governor and as security for the PGA tour.
“Beyond any of his work accomplishments, Hector excelled at something even more important, being a loyal friend and family member,” Sgt. DeRosa said.
On Tuesday, Feb. 21, law enforcement officials and the Christmas family honored K-9 Hector with a memorial service which began at 11:00 a.m. on the Montague Terrace of the North Charleston Performing Arts Center.
“He was the perfect mix of a lover of his job. But, when he got home, he knew how to switch that off and be our family member,” said Capt. Christmas’ wife, Jennifer.
A memorial procession began at 10:30 a.m. from Porsche Boulevard and traveled to Coliseum Drive.
From Goose Creek to Summerville, many of the Lowcountry’s law enforcement agencies were in attendance.
“As an officer, we know that the K-9s will not be with us forever, but we will cherish his memory and that’s something that will never go away,” said Chief Chris Helms with the Charleston County Aviation Authority Police Department.
Tyler Christmas, Capt. Christmas’ son, said K-9 Hector was a member of their family.
“I mean, I consider him to be a brother. You know, it was like losing a sibling because he was always around,” Christmas told News 2.
K-9 Hector’s lifelong dedication will not be forgotten.