Retired Buffalo police K9 that served alongside late Lt. Craig Lehner dies

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Shield, the Buffalo police K9 that served alongside the late Lt. Craig Lehner and later retired in 2022 after six years of service, has died, the Buffalo Police Department announced. He was 11 years old.

“Shield was a tremendous K9 for the Buffalo Police Department and the City of Buffalo,” Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said in a release. “I had an opportunity to be around Shield at calls and he was well-known department-wide as one of the best. … We are grateful for his service to our community.”

Shield began his career with the Buffalo Police Department in 2016 with Lehner, his partner and handler. Lehner tragically died in 2017 during an underwater training exercise in the Niagara River.

After his original partner’s death, Shield partnered with officer Matthew Richards for the next five years of his service. He then lived out the rest of his days with the Richards family in retirement.

“We call them ‘working’ dogs – they are far more than that,” Richards said in a release.

“The love that goes into ‘working’ with these dogs is endless and tireless. … The amount of time spent with each other creates a bond that cannot be broken. It was my honor and privilege to continue on with the training of Shield after the tragic loss of Lt. Craig Lehner. I will miss Shield as his passing has left an immense hole in my family’s heart.”

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Adam Gorski is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team in 2022. You can find more of his work here.

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