Memorial service held for beloved Cook County K9

A Cook County Sheriff's police officer had an emotional goodbye to the dog that worked at his side for a decade until she died three weeks ago.

The canine officer, a bloodhound, had arrived at the sheriff’s department as a 2-month-old puppy.

Dozens of police K9 teams showed up Wednesday for a memorial service.

It was a police officer's memorial, marked by bagpipes and bloodhounds. A final tribute to Melanie, an 11-year-old canine officer who spent her life helping Cook County Sheriff’s police track people down.

“In a pinch, we needed a dog to go find somebody, we called Melanie,” said Sgt. Erik Roedel.

Melanie died on May 9 from brain cancer. On Wednesday, a memorial was held at Brookfield Zoo where canine officers train. Canine patrols from other departments stood at attention as Melanie's handler -- Officer Jim Pacetti -- his family, and several bloodhounds who are relatives of Melanie, arrived for the hour-long memorial service.

“She was the actual first bloodhound that I saw work, and she was amazing, she was amazing,” said Naperville K9 handler Chris Sherwin.

Officers who spoke at the memorial remembered how over the years, Melanie had helped track down a bank robber, a murder suspect, lots of missing persons, and in her last assignment, she worked on the case of the missing 5-year-old in Crystal Lake, A.J. Freund.

Melanie's handler was too emotional to talk afterward, but spoke briefly during the service.

“There's just too many, from missing kids, to murderers and everything in between. She was a special dog,” Pacetti said.

“You know, a lot of people would say why do you go through all this for a dog? You know it wasn't only a dog, it was an officer, an officer that helped save lives and bring bad guys to justice,” Roedel said.