In a heartbreaking press conference held at Buffalo Police Headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, Lt. Jeff Rinaldo talked about what the past few days have been like, how difficult it has been, particularly for the Underwater Rescue Team – who worked incredibly hard to find Officer Lehner. He talked about the outpouring of love and support from the entire community.
Lt. Rinaldo said plans are underway to hold a funeral with full Police honors – likely next week. More details will come out in the next few days. He also talked about what a special guy Officer Lehner was.
And then they talked about Shield – Officer Lehner’s K-9 Partner.
Lt. Sal Losi who heads up the K-9 unit says Shield will undergo an evaluation to determine if he should go to another handler. The evaluation will determine what skill-sets Shield has and they will then try and match him up with a new handler who might make a good fit. If that does not work, Shield would be placed for adoption.
Lt. Losi said Craig Lehner actually made the process easier by the amount of training he’s given the dog – saying the two were basically inseparable, training all the time, “They were spotted on the training field with the dog every single day.” Days on and days off.
What’s really quite remarkable is apparently how alike the partners were. Lt. Losi says Shield embodies the same qualities that Officer Lehner did: loyalty, professional dedication and even the same quirky sense of humor. He went even further saying that Shield embodies the spirit of Officer Lehner.
Right now, Shield is being cared for by other members of the K-9 unit. They are taking turns caring for the dog – who seemed anxious and upset in those early hours of being separated from his trainer. They are trying to keep him around familiar people and keep him active – all in an effort to keep his spirits up.
These dogs are a part of the trainer’s family. They are together – basically all the time. They go home with them, to work with them, and then all the training they do together. They are family.
And right now – like the rest of the brave members of the Buffalo Police Department – Shield is adjusting to life without Officer Craig Lehner.