HACKETTSTOWN, NJ – It has been nearly a month since Hackettstown Officer Christopher Laver lost his K9 partner Jada while on duty. But the pain is still fresh.
Jada was working Aug. 19 when she suffered a medical emergency and was rushed to a veterinary clinic where she passed in the company of Laver. Jada was a Belgian Malinois who was just five years old. She joined the Hackettstown Police Department on July 14, 2016.
For his part, Laver took his time and eventually posted to social media, and on the eve to his return to work without her, he did just that.
“What words do I use, what is it that I’m searching for to say? How do I share with each and everyone one of you all that is truly going on in my head right now? Heartbroken? Devastated? Numb? Numb is the best way to explain all of this,” Laver posted.
Laver said that after Jada’s death he took time to regain his wits and spent time with his wife and kids, who were also mourning Jada’s loss, he knew it was time to share what his partner meant to those whose lives she touched.
Laver said that in 2005, while deployed overseas he learned all about military working dogs and once he did he knew that K9 was his calling.
“I’ve campaigned for a position as a K9 handler for many years, gearing anything and everything in my law enforcement career to succeed as a handler,” Laver said.
History Making Duo
Laver ended up in Hackettstown, where he came up with the idea to get a puppy from a working dog bloodline bred by a retired K9 handler.
“My wife knew it was an insane idea but she supported me from day one. She said if this what I wanted to do she will be along for the ride,” Laver said. “I will not forget the day I brought the kids and my wife up to Pete’s to pick out our new pup. My eyes were set on Jada from the start. We had the pick of the litter. It was final, Jada was picked named and she came home with us. She instantly became a part of our family.”
From there, Laver and fellow officers presented the idea to start the first K9 unit to Chief Jim Macaulay and while they gained his support but there was no guarantee Laver would be the one to get the position.
And there was no guarantee that Jada would be his partner.
But fate and hard work was on their side because after tryouts and a presentation to the Hackettstown town council, it was official. Jada and Laver were paired as Hackettstown’s first K9 team.
“We set off to train and certify at the Union County Sheriffs K9 Academy for narcotics and patrol,” Laver said. “I am so grateful for my classmates and all of my instructors along with every other experienced handler that helped out during in-service training. The bond of the K9 world is nothing but the elite.”
After graduation, the duo hit the streets.
“I was fortunate enough to work short but adventurous four-plus years with K9 Jada. We have so many memories together,” Laver said. “We have had some successful call outs. Most of all, I truly enjoyed having you by my side. We drove each other nuts as we spent those long hours together in the car but I know we loved each other. Jada was my rock. Jada loved to work.”
Laver said nothing was out of the ordinary and all was well as we both geared up and signed on duty together for the time. But after a few hours into the shift, Jada’s health quickly diminished.
“I knew I had to get her help. Jada went unresponsive as I rushed her to the animal hospital. The staff at the Newton Animal Hospital did what they had to do to save her life,” Laver said. “I previously stated that Jada left this earth to go serve with God. My girl is a worker, and she’s definitely patrolling those gates.”
But to serve with God, Jada had to leave this Earth.
“I have not stopped crying. I miss her so much. I want her back. I would do anything to spend another minute with her. What hurts the most is seeing my kids and wife cry and say how much they miss her,” Laver said. “Saying she was a big part of our life is an understatement. My family has endured the years of training, my shift changes, my time away from home, the late-night call outs, and most of all our relocation to the Hackettstown area. They were as dedicated as I was to K9 Jada’s purpose.”
Two weeks after Jada’s death and the day before he signed on to duty alone, Laver posted a message of thanks to everyone who supported him and honored Jada at her funeral service.
“It was so difficult to give her my final salute but I know for sure I’ll see her again,” he said. “I will definitely miss her barks the instant I activate my lights for my first call. I know I’ll be just fine because she’s always going to be by my side.”
Laver also posted a message for Jada:
“Jada, I know you hear me! I’m not mad at you. I am so frigging sad. I miss you so damn much. Please rest easy girl. You deserve it. I love you and we will meet again.”
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