LA VERGNE, TN (WSMV) - Law enforcement officers gathered outside an animal hospital on Thursday to say good bye to a La Vergne K9 officer killed in the line of duty.

Police and the community met at the Animal Medical Center in Murfreesboro to pay respect to K-9 Sjaak. He was shot three times on Tuesday after a man opened fire at his handler’s vehicle.

Once the officers gathered, Sjaak was escorted in a procession down Murfreesboro Road. Community members gathered along the route to say their goodbyes.

“Just to support him and the whole bunch of people he works with,” Martha Gibson, who came out to watch with her dog Toto, said.

“We thought he would very well pull through,” La Vergne Interim Chief Chip Davis said. “We had no reason to think that he didn’t, but he took a turn for the worse. And now he’s in a better place.”

Sjaak was a K-9 officer with La Vergne for six years and his handler was Officer Justin Darby.

“He was very special to us at the LPD, just like a normal officer to us,” Davis said. “But not only to us but to the Darby family. He was like a kid to Justin Darby the officer.”

The La Vergne Police Department treated Sjaak like any other fallen officer. He will be buried with full honors and a memorial service will be planned later.

Community members waved goodbye while some held onto their own four-legged friend a bit tighter.

“People don’t understand,” Gibson said. “They look at them as a dog but let me tell you they have feelings and they bond just like a person.”

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