Funeral service honors life of K-9 officer Axel

CHARLESTON, W Va. (WSAZ) – City leaders spoke about who K-9 Officer Axel was and what he meant to the Charleston Police Department.

Police Chief Tyke Hunt said Axel made the ultimate sacrifice when he tracked down a wanted man in the woods who was armed and ready to shoot so other officers could go home to their families Saturday night.

“The dog’s role in law enforcement was created for a purpose, and that purpose was to address dangerous situations,” Hunt said. “Situations that have a history of showing a high likelihood of injury or death.”

Chief Hunt said Axel was an impressive, successful handler, having worked very hard for the department as one of six. Hunt also said Axel followed his handler’s last command to “heel” until he breathed his last alongside his partner Ptl. Clendenine.

“Your department is here to heal you one last time,” Hunt said.

Hunt said he could hear the lump in Ptl. Clendenins throat Saturday on the phone. He said his partner K-9 officer, Axel, along with the other officers who were at the scene, saved his life.

Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin also spoke about the courage and sacrifice that faced Axel and other K-9 fighters in the department.

“All of our canines that we’ve lost over the years may like them to hear the words ‘Well done,'” Goodwin said.

Goodwin shared that about a year ago, Axel came home with the Clendenin family the same week as their newborn baby.

Charleston Deputy Police Commissioner Scott Dempsee knew that Axel was more than an officer, he spoke to Axel’s family, the Clendenins and their two children.

“We are truly sorry for your grief and loss, but everyone in this Grand Hall, everyone who is watching, is right next to you,” Dempsey said.

Compl. Makenzie White of the Hurricane Police Department knew of the bond between Axel and his handler, Ptl. Clendenin because she is also a dog handler.

“We view the police dog as a cop and treat them the same way, so it’s important that I and my department show our support,” White said. “They’re supposed to go in before we leave, that doesn’t make it any easier but he did his job and made the ultimate sacrifice for those officers at the end of the day.”

Another K-9 handler from the department presented a statement from Ptl. Clendenin’s wife.

Axel served with the Charleston Police Department for about a year before giving his life serving the city of Charleston.

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