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Paying respect to fallen partners

Posted on Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Courage is having the “heart,” the mental, and the moral strength to venture, persevere, withstand and overcome danger, difficulty and fear. No truer words could be written to describe K-9 Maggie.

Lt. Patrick Sheridan pauses to remember his fellow K-9 Officer Maggie, as well as other K-9s at a memorial erected at Virginia Tech honoring fallen K-9 officers.

Lt. Patrick Sheridan pauses to remember his fellow K-9 Officer Maggie, as well as other K-9s at a memorial erected at Virginia Tech honoring fallen K-9 officers.

Maggie was like her two-legged fellow officers. She went out into Louisa County each day not knowing what awaited her, yet she served and protected her community with courage. She was loved by resident, young and old alike.

K-9 Maggie answered her last recorded call at about 2 a.m. on Saturday, December 10, 2011 with her handler, Lt. Patrick Sheridan. They responded to a call for a suicidal person in the Ferncliff area.

According to Deputy Chief Donald Lowe, the six-year-veteran bloodhound was preparing to start a track at the residence when she was attached by a pit bull named “Coco.”

Maggie, unfortunately, succumbed to a bacterial infection that was a by-product of the pit bull attack and passed away. She was the first K-9 lost in the line of duty at Lousia County Sheriff’s Office and the first female bloodhound K-9 officer killed in Virginia.

Magpie Electric Potential, aka Maggie, was born on October 14, 2005.  She was acquired from Magpie Kennels in Milford, N.J. and was 12-weeks-old when she was partnered with Sheridan.

Solving her first case when she was only nine months old, Maggie responded to over 348 calls and worked in 18 jurisdictions. She also helped locate 153 marijuana plants on the Cummings property off of Mt. Airy Road in Louisa.

She also worked many breaking and entering cases and several vehicle pursuits that, according to Sheridan, if they had not had the dogs they would not have been able to locate the suspects.

Maggie’s sacrifice is memorialized in a sculpture on the Virginia Tech campus of Veterinary Medicine that was dedicated on October 16, 2009.

Sheridan, who had yet to make the trip to the memorial, was invited by his friend, Albermarle Police Department Officer Andy Guba, whose dog K-9 Ingo was killed in the line of duty on October 24, 2004.

“It’s one of those things I wanted to do, but it was hard,” Sheridan said, with sadness in his voice. “I wanted to do it, but I didn’t want to do it if that makes sense.”

It was tough, Sheridan said about going to the memorial, due to his personally knowing four of the dogs and their handlers and having worked with them.

“I wanted to go up and pay my respects to all the dogs that had made the ultimate sacrifice,” Sheridan said. “I mean, they were killed in the line of duty, each one of them, so it was hard.”

He said going with a colleague and friend that had gone through the same experience with his dog made it easier for Sheridan. The men  supported one another.

Sheridan said the memorial was beautiful and well maintained.

“It pays tribute to all police canines and what their sacrifice was,” Sheridan said. “It sinks in what these dogs do for us everyday.”

Most of the memories Sheridan carries of Maggie evolve around the schools and the children. Sheridan said he still has people come up to him today and recognize him as Maggie’s handler. Maggie was a delight to school children whom she visited and allowed students to come up and give her love and to pet her.

“They may not know my name, but they knew who Maggie was,” Sheridan said.

Though the kids have gotten older, they remember Maggie and still relate to that.

“I can’t thank the citizens of Louisa and the business owners enough,” Sheridan said.

Within a week and a half after Maggie’s passing, enough donations came in to the sheriff’s office K-9 unit to purchase Rizzo, who is now Sheridan’s partner.

To read the entire story, see the Nov. 7 edition of The Central Virginian.