COLUMBIA CITY — To some, K-9 Cas was a friendly pup who made appearances for their clubs and other community events.

To law enforcement, she was an asset — one time seizing 3 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of $300,000.

To a young child who was lost and alone for 40 minutes at Camp Whitley — she was a lifesaver.

To her handler, Whitley County Sheriff’s Deputy Gary Archbold — she was his closest partner, always by his side or in his rearview mirror.

Cas’ time as an officer was cut short last week after a police pursuit ended in a fiery crash that resulted in her death.

Cas’ death has not only affected those in law enforcement, but the community as a whole, as many have changed their social media profile pictures to a photo of Archbold and Cas, several have made donations to the Sheriff’s Department’s K-9 Fund in her honor, and a squad car parked on the Courthouse lawn is flooded with flowers and gifts.

“Sheriff Gatton and the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department staff would like to thank the community for the overwhelming support during this difficult time,” read a post on the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page.

The crash occurred last Wednesday, two days before the start of the county’s biggest event of the year, the Whitley County 4-H Fair. The 4-H community also showed its support for Cas — a Thin Blue Line flag was hung in the show barn, and the fair’s annual wood carving — which was supposed to be of a rabbit — was made into a memorial for the fallen officer.

A memorial service will be held Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m. at First Church of God in Columbia City, followed by a funeral procession to Greenhill Cemetery for a committal service with full honors.

K-9 Cas first became a sworn officer of the Columbia City Police Department in 2017 under the direction of Chief Tony Hively.

From the moment Archbold saw her, he knew she was the partner for him.

“As soon as she came out of the back, I looked at the chief and said, ‘that’s our dog,’” he said in a previous interview with IN|Whitley County. “There was a connection from the get-go.”

Archbold became a K-9 handler after nearly two decades of service to the CCPD. He even gave up his position as sergeant to be a K-9 handler.

After 3-5 years of an absence of K-9 officers in the county, Cas joined the department and showed great success.

In her first eight months of service, she was deployed 160 times, mostly on narcotics searches — including one that took $300,000 worth of cocaine off the highway in Whitley County.

Archbold retired from the CCPD and joined the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, taking his K-9 partner with him.

Typically, K-9s work for 7-8 years. Cas’ watch was ended about five years too soon.

Those wishing to make a monetary contribution to the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department should direct donations to the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department’s K-9 fund.

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Nicole is editor of IN|Whitley County and the Churubusco News. She has a passion for Whitley County and is always open to new story ideas. Contact her at nminier@kpcmedia.com.