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‘Our hearts are heavy’: Elizabeth Township K-9 officer Eli dies after demonstration at local school

ELIZABETH TOWNSHIP, Pa. — With one lick, K-9 Eli was best known for his tail wagging and brain freezes when he stopped weekly for his ice cream.

“He was so excited, you could see him, he’d jump up on the counter and he loved seeing all the people and definitely getting the ice cream,” said Kamryn Williams who works at Frosty Cone.

The workers at Frosty Cone were heartbroken about hearing the news of his passing.

“It’s really hard news, all the girls here are going to really sad,” Williams said.

K-9 Eli and his handler Officer Dan Novacek had just finished a demonstration this afternoon at the elementary school when Eli had a seizure and died after eight years of service.

>> See photos of K-9 Eli here

K-9 Eli started with the Elizabeth Township Police Department in 2016 and has hundreds of apprehensions and seizures since that time. In that same time, he has touched thousands of hearts, the department said on its Facebook page.

“It’s a sudden loss. It’s unexpected, we all kind of grew with Eli through the years, he’s going to be a big loss. I can’t even explain it,” said Sgt Jamie Evans with Elizabeth Township Police.

Officers from around the Mon Valley showing up to escort this fallen hero to the funeral home. Standing by Officer Novacek as he said goodbye to his best friend.

“In service, out of service, they had a real tight bond. He was more than a service dog, he was part of the family, he was part of the department, he was there, he was good,” Evans said.

Pictures from around the community show just how invested this team was in policing Elizabeth Township.

“Everywhere you went the kids would play with Eli, the businesses would love when Eli came in, everybody just loved him in this community,” Evans said.

There will be a memorial held for Eli on from noon to 2 p.m. and from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, May 17, at the Boston Spectrum in Elizabeth Township.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Eli’s honor have been requested to the Elizabeth Township Sportsman Association’s K-9 Fund - 1501 Nichols Hill Road, Elizabeth, PA 15037. Make check payable to “Elizabeth Township K9 & Equipment Fund.” Condolences can be made at gilbertfuneralhomeandcrematory.com.

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