Covington police are mourning the loss of Ernie, a retired K-9 officer who made headlines during his nearly decade-long career.
Ernie died of cancer on Friday, Capt. Justin Wietholter said in an email to The Enquirer.
"Yesterday we lost the most famous K-9 in Kenton County history," Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders said in a tweet Sunday. "Rest easy Ernie."
Ernie had a "decorated career," with more than eight years as a K-9 officer before retiring late last year, Wietholter said.
"K-9 Ernie has been one motivated and dedicated K-9, not just for Covington police but for all of Kenton County," a dispatcher said during Ernie's end of watch broadcast. "Those paws are going to be hard to fill."
In 2015, Ernie – who at that time was a three-year veteran of the force – was shot twice after a man wanted for attempted murder exchanged gunfire with police.
Despite his injuries, he was back on his bandaged feet the next day. He and his handler were later awarded a Citation for Bravery by the city.
As a result of the shooting, a Kentucky law was amended in 2017 to make assaulting a police dog a felony charge. That law is now known as "Ernie's Law."
Just 14 months after Ernie was shot, he and his handler, Officer Michael Lusardi, were involved in a hit-skip crash while traveling southbound down Interstate 71/75, according to a 2016 Enquirer story.
The cruiser sustained moderate to heavy damage and both Ernie and Lusardi required medical treatment.