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It was a memorial fit for any Utah peace officer.

Except this funeral service Saturday was for Koda, a 3 ½-year-old Belgian Malinois police dog for the Midvale Police Department. Koda was shot and killed in the line of duty New Year's Day while trying to catch a burglary suspect.

About 300 civilians, K-9 officers from around the state, and public officials, including Midvale Mayor JoAnn Seghini and Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller, filled Hillcrest High's auditorium for the service. "We're here to honor the sacrifices that have been made," said Midvale police Capt. Steve Shreeve. "We're here to honor everyone who works under the badge."

Koda was with Midvale police for about 18 months after being picked up in California and trained at the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) campus. He was partnered with his handler about six months ago.

"He was a very fun dog. He enjoyed everything he did," said Robert Johnson, a K-9 officer from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department who also helped train Koda for eight weeks. "He was fun to train. His tail was always wagging.

"I was upset about the news," he added. "Three weeks to the day of his graduation, he was killed."

On New Year's Day, police responded to a group of four burglary suspects running from a home near 6700 South and Acoma Road (665 East).

One of the burglars, Tevita Talanoa Fisiitalia, 22, was fleeing when officers released Koda after him. As the dog was about to bite the suspect, Fisiitalia turned and shot Koda twice in the chest, killing him. Two Midvale officers, including Koda's handler, a Midvale police officer, then returned fire, shooting Fisiitalia once in the head. The suspect later died at the hospital.

Koda is only the fourth police dog known to be killed in the line of duty in Utah, according to Wendell Nope, POST's K-9 trainer.

"His handler has lost a partner," Seghini told the crowd of mourners. "We -- all of us -- have lost a hero."

The service involved full police honors, including a color guard and a procession outside the school building with an American flag hoisted by two fire department ladder trucks. The dog's remains, which were cremated, were given to his police handler.

K-9 officers from around the state as well as Nevada attended the funeral.

"The K-9 community is a very small group of people in law enforcement as a whole," Las Vegas Officer Johnson said. "My agency lost three dogs in the line of duty, and I know how it impacts the unit. This is a way to show our support."

Memorial for fallen police dogs

Utah police officers are building the first memorial for K-9 dogs killed in the line of duty.

The proposed Utah Police Service Dog Memorial will be built at the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training campus in Sandy.

While funding for the memorial and the design have been secured, organizers of the project still are researching information on all police dogs known to be killed in the line of duty.

Those with information can call POST at 801-256-2300.