- Associated Press - Friday, February 7, 2014

PITTSBURGH (AP) - An estimated 1,200 people attended a Friday morning funeral for a Pittsburgh police dog stabbed to death in the line of duty.

Hundreds of active and retired law enforcement officers from around the state paid their respects to Rocco during the ceremony at the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum in Pittsburgh.

Rocco, an 8-year-old German Shepherd, died Jan. 30, two days after being stabbed by a fugitive suspect during an arrest. That man, 21-year-old John Rush, remains jailed on charges of attacking the dog and officers at the scene, as well as the bench warrants for which he was arrested.

Bagpipers played as a procession of uniformed police officers wearing white gloves carried a large plaque displaying Rocco’s photo followed by a box containing his cremated remains.

Acting police Chief Regina McDonald offered brief remarks, thanking those who came together to organize the service for Rocco, and noting that the dog and his handler trained together, worked together, and lived together.

Rocco’s handler, Officer Phil Lerza, was stabbed in the shoulder during the arrest. He initially requested a closed funeral, before an outpouring of public support convinced him and city police brass to open the service to the public.

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