- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (AP) - As Michigan City police officer Rob Grant chased a suspect in a potential theft case, his K9 partner, Henry, was relentless - even after the suspect knocked out the dog’s teeth with a rock.

Grant didn’t learn of Henry’s injuries until nearly a month later. The K9 refused to show signs of weakness, said Doug Samuelson, another Michigan City K9 officer.

“There’s no doubt he wanted to please Robbie. That dog was devoted to Robbie,” said Samuelson, one of Grant’s best friends. “He was a one-man dog.”

So when Grant and Henry died just a month apart in 2015, friends and family wanted to bury them together. What they soon learned, however, was that Indiana law prohibited burying Henry in a human cemetery. They began working toward fighting for a change in Indiana law.

“I was really upset because I felt that they needed to be together, that Rob would have wanted that,” said Lindsay Grant, Rob’s wife. “I definitely wanted that.”

Grant worked with the Michigan City Police Department for 12 years, the last five alongside Henry. Together, they cleaned the streets of drugs and criminals, Samuelson said.

Henry retired from his K9 duties in January 2015 because of his age. Henry remained healthy after his retirement, until Grant’s unexpected suicide in August 2015.

Days before his death, Grant was arrested for the illegal possession of prescription drugs after he was accused of stealing from the police department’s discarded medication vault, according to The Times of Northwest Indiana.

He was later found dead in his car with self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

Rob Grant had asked Samuelson to take care of Henry if something ever happened to him, and for Samuelson, ensuring they were buried together was a part of his promise.

“It didn’t make sense to me, why the cremated remains of this guy’s police partner couldn’t be buried with him,” Samuelson said. “There was no doubt about it, Robbie would have wanted to be buried with Henry.”

Samuelson helped as Lindsay Grant transitioned into Henry’s new handler. But Henry’s health declined and he became aggressive, leading Samuelson to take over as handler because of his experience with K9s.

“He wanted to be with Robbie. He missed Robbie,” Samuelson said. “He was 13 years old, and he missed his partner.”

LaPorte Superior Court Judge Richard Stalbrink, a family friend who had married Rob and Lindsay in 2006, worked to get the law changed. He contacted state Rep. Scott Pelath, a Democrat from Michigan City, to see if he would be able to make any changes.

“If you’ve ever been around a K9 or service dog, there’s a bond and a relationship the handler and dog have that go way beyond a partnership,” Stalbrink said.

Pelath introduced the issue to other lawmakers, who he said were sympathetic to the Grant family’s pain.

He proposed House Bill 1374, known as “Henry’s Law,” which passed unanimously in both Indiana chambers in March 2016. The law allows for cremated law enforcement and service animals to be scattered or buried on top of their dead owners’ burial plots.

“It’s not a situation that occurs very often, but in these rare cases where it might, it might make their grief a little less,” Pelath said. “We get a lot of big things we work on, but every once in a while, if there’s a chance to do something much more narrow that has a real-world effect, we try to do it.”

Once the law went into effect July 1, nearly a year after Rob Grant died, he and Henry were finally buried together. In the time before Henry was buried, he was cremated, and Samuelson kept his ashes in his squad car. Henry loved to work and ride in the squad car, so Samuelson thought it was fitting he spend his time there until they could bury him.

A group of about 50 friends and family members attended Henry’s service, sharing stories about Rob Grant and Henry. The memorial was short - only about 10 minutes - but it was enough for Lindsay Grant. She couldn’t handle another emotional funeral like her husband’s, she said.

“It was very comforting,” Lindsay Grant said. “More happy than sad, because it’d been a long time waiting for that to happen.

“But finally knowing we’re finally putting Henry to rest and they’re together, it brings a little bit of peace.”


Source: The Indianapolis Star, https://indy.st/29PoF9w


Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com

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