For the past 10 years, Officer Michael D’Aresta of the Middletown Police Department has had the same partner: a police dog named Hunter. The K-9 unit was inseparable, serving their small city 16 miles south of Hartford, Connecticut with pride, loyalty and skill.
Two weeks ago, however, D’Aresta noticed that Hunter wasn’t his usual self. A trip to the vet revealed the worst possible news: Hunter had an aggressive form of liver cancer, and the vet recommended he be put down to spare him any further pain.
In a post shared on the police department’s Facebook page, Sergeant Doug Clark, the department’s K-9 supervisor, wrote, “Officer Michael D’Aresta unfortunately has to make the toughest decision any K9 handler dreads making this evening at Pieper Olson in Middletown at 1830 hours. K9 Hunter has been ill for that past several days and when tests were conducted they revealed that K9 Hunter has a very aggressive form of Liver cancer. They unfortunately recommended that he be euthanized. Officer D’Aresta and Hunter have been an exceptional team serving the City of Middletown in a high caliber since 2007. So as you can imagine, this is extremely difficult for Mike and his family.”
Hunter was no ordinary dog, which means his passing required an extraordinary show of respect, love and gratitude. As D’Aresta tearfully carried Hunter into the vet’s office, his path was flanked by police officers and community members saluting their local hero. The photos are heartbreaking.
“Hunter and Officer D’Aresta have been such a huge part of our department the past ten years. Such a dedicated K-9 team,” Clark wrote. “It will never be the same. Rest in Peace Hunter you’ve done well. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Michael D’Aresta and his family.”
Hunter’s “End of Watch” came early. He was set to retire from duty at the end of this year. Unfortunately, cancer had other plans.
Condolences to all in the Middleton Police Department mourning the loss of Hunter, and thank you for giving this civil servant the heroic goodbye he deserved.