The Mesquite Police Department K-9 was killed during a police pursuit through some woods in April.
German Shepherd with a badge
Credit: Courtesy of American Kennel Club

Kozmo, a K-9 officer in Texas, has been posthumously awarded the American Kennel Club's Paw of Courage medal after he died while pursuing robbery suspects in a Dallas suburb earlier this year.

The medal, created in 2016, honors police dogs and military working dogs, as well as service and therapy dogs, who have made an impact on their humans and the communities around them. In a news release, the AKC described Kozmo as a "dedicated servant" who was loyal to his human partner and educated Mesquite's residents. 

"He was an exemplary police dog for the Mesquite Police Department, making the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty," AKC Executive Secretary Gina DiNardo said in a statement. "We are proud to honor him with an AKC Paw of Courage award to recognize his hard work and valor in the service of his community." 

At 2:30 a.m. on April 26, Kozmo, a 5-year-old Dutch shepherd mix and four-year veteran of the Mesquite Police Department, responded with his human partner to assist in a police pursuit that began in Balch Springs, about 4 miles south of Mesquite, according to NBC DFW. After a spike strip stopped the fleeing vehicle, three suspects ran and Kozmo pursued two of them into a wooded area near the road. The two suspects were caught, but Kozmo could not be found and did not respond to his handler's calls.

Kozmo's body was found around 4 a.m., and a necropsy concluded his injuries were consistent with an assault, police said. One of the suspects from the car chase, a 16-year-old boy, has been charged with a second-degree felony in Kozmo's death.

"It's tough. It's cliché, but it's so true, these dogs are not just dogs. [They] are a part of our police family," Mesquite police Lt. Stephen Biggs told CBS DFW. "Kozmo has been with us for the last four years. He was an amazing dog and he gave his life doing what he was trained to do."

On April 30, K-9 units from a number of surrounding police departments came together to provide Kozmo with an honor guard as he was brought back to Mesquite, where he was placed in rest until his memorial service.

On Twitter, people responded with condolences, prayers and photos from the memorial as everyone came together to give Kozmo a warm sendoff across the rainbow bridge. Doggos and first responders are both aces in my book, so doggos who are first responders deserve a special place of honor. Rest well, Kozmo. Good boy.