Animal Hero Award - Officer Eric Blair & K9 Officer Mr. Warner

People with dog

Dakin’s Animal Hero Award was bestowed upon an impressive team from the Springfield Police K-9 unit; K-9 Officer Mr. Warner, and his human partner, Officer Eric Blair.  The Animal Hero Award recognizes an extraordinary animal and handler in this case, Officer Blair, whose valor and remarkable devotion to people proved lifesaving in disastrous or challenging circumstances.

Officer Blair proudly remembered some of Mr. Warner’s best work.  “We were responding to a home invasion, and he went into that house and cornered three armed suspects on the second floor.”  Another time, Mr. Warner tracked down an elderly woman with dementia who had gone missing.  He found her in a wooded area at 2:30 am.

Partners since 2014, Officer Blair has unbridled praise for Mr. Warner, who has assisted in many cases on both local and state levels.  The German Shepherd, popular wherever he goes, has his own Facebook page with more than 500 followers.

Officer Blair wanted to be part of the K-9 unit as soon as he joined the force, but needed to wait a few years until the opportunity was there.  When he became a K-9 officer, he visited a police kennel in Pennsylvania to find a partner and picked a dog named Rob, who would soon have a name change.  “There was an essay contest at Warner School in Springfield and the kids named him ‘Warner,’” he recalled.  Officer Blair added the distinguished “Mister” in front of it.  Working with a K-9 partner, he said, “is probably the best job in the world.”

Unlike human police partners who can communicate verbally, it’s all cues with Officer Blair and his partner.  “I know his body movements,” he says.  “I know when he’s on to something by the way he carries himself.”

Mr. Warner will be retiring at the end of the year.  As he winds down his working days, he enjoys his home life with his partner and his family, which includes two young children.  “He’s my third child,” chuckled Officer Blair.  “He’s very protective and I pity anyone who comes near my kids!”