When a powerful tornado hit the Houston suburb of Deer Park, Texas, last week, police Officer Joel Nitchman knew he had to save his helpless partner.
On surveillance video, Nitchman can be seen running to a parked police SUV outside the station. Another officer runs toward the building.
Moments later, the tornado hits. For a moment, we can’t see a thing. Fencing appears to be thrown into the side of the cruiser. Within seconds, later, the worst of it is over.
Then, Nitchman emerged from the cruiser unharmed with his partner, Roni. No last name. That’s because Roni is a canine — or K-9, to be use law enforcement terminology.
According to KTRK-TV in Houston, the Deer Park Police Department went viral last week after it released video showing the officer running to save his animal partner.
The tornado bearing down on Deer Park (population about 34,000) on Jan. 24 was an EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, which measures the strength of the twisters similar to the “categories” used to measure hurricanes. On the EF scale, an EF5 is the strongest, but an EF3 is nothing to fool around with, with wind speeds of 136 to 165 mph.
“The National Weather Service confirmed the tornado that went through Pasadena and Deer Park as an EF3 and characterized it with an estimated maximum path length of 18 miles, maximum path width of 0.66 miles, and a maximum wind speed of 140 mph,” KTRK reported.
Mike Seidel, a familiar fixture on The Weather Channel, was one of the many who shared the video last week.
Watch as K-9 Officer Joel Nitchman of the Deer Park, TX Police Dept. races to rescue his #dog Roni as the EF3 #tornado hits on Tue. As he said, “Any handler would have done the same for their K-9 partner.” Very happy that both are safe!#dogsarelove
— Mike Seidel (@mikeseidel) January 26, 2023
“Any handler would have done the same for their K-9 partner,” Nitchman is quoted as saying in Seidel’s tweet.
And, just so we’re clear, this wasn’t a case of animal neglect, as Pet Rescue Report noted.
“In most cases, the K-9 remains in the vehicle while his handler is inside. When the officer is at the station, (s)he is usually doing paperwork or submitting evidence which requires the officer’s full attention. The K-9 always remains in a temperature controlled vehicle with water. If at any point the vehicle loses power the K-9 can exit the vehicle,” the website reported.
“In some instances, the K-9 will accompany his handler inside the station, but while on duty, the vehicle is the dog’s safe space.”
It’s easy to appreciate the sentiment toward one’s dog, as plenty on Twitter did.
This is my sidekick! He’s been a bit sick this run out, but he’s getting better! We hang in there together, my buddy! Rocky pic.twitter.com/ftvBohZul4
— will betruckin (@msbulldog43) January 27, 2023
Bravo!!!!!!!! I would’ve done the same thing!
— Pollyanne (@1Pollyanne) January 26, 2023
Good for him. He loves his dog.
— Rita Sander (@RitaSander2) January 30, 2023
However, one responder made a salient point about just how deep the bond between officer and dog goes:
And Roni would do the same for her human partner and probably has.
— Ron S. (@ronamuck) January 27, 2023
And indeed, they do all the time. In May, a K-9 named Kai was hailed as a hero after the dog took two bullets as police in Gwinnett County, Georgia, chased an armed and dangerous suspect who was fleeing. Officers were able to save Kai by rushing him to the vet.
“We offered what little first-aid we could to him prior to him getting here [the vet],” said Cpl. Aaron Carlyle, according to WXIA-TV in Atlanta.
“I think that’s probably the difference in why he was able to walk out of here today and us, as officers, were also able to walk out of the woods that day.”
It’s a bond that goes both ways — something Officer Nitchman and Roni can attest to, no doubt.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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