JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The K9 community across the state is left heartbroken after learning of K9 Trooper Hemi's death Monday night.
Region 8 News spoke with Blake Bristow, a local K9 trainer, and owner of Blue Streak K9, on Tuesday.
"You know, he died a hero's death, he died protecting his handler, which is what he's trained to do," Bristow said.
Hemi is deemed a hero after taking a bullet for his handler during a deadly officer-involved shooting.
Although Bristow did not train Arkansas State Police's K9 Hemi, he has a tight-knit friendship with his handler.
"The handler is a good friend of mine, we've trained together over the past five years just doing our maintenance training and actually working together in some cases," Bristow said.
Bristow said Hemi was well known not only in Northeast Arkansas but across the state.
"I would say one of the most successful dogs in Northeast Arkansas in the last five years as far as the number of drugs he's gotten off the street," said Bristow
The K9 trainer said most people see these dogs as just that, a dog, but to the handler, it's their best friend. Losing them is like losing family, according to Bristow.
"He didn't lose just a dog, he lost his partner," said Bristow. "When the trooper gets back into the car here in a couple days, it's going to be empty, you know his cage is empty."
Trooper Hemi served the Arkansas State Police with courage before being killed in the line of duty.
Hemi began is watch in 2013 and took his final chase on Monday, July 30.