SHIRLEY — The Shirley Police Department is mourning the lose of its long-serving police dog, which died Sunday after a battle with cancer.

K9 officer Charon had served Shirley residents since 2010 and was a fixture in the little town. Police Chief Brian Pryor was forced to retire the dog after the dog was diagnosed with stomach cancer in late March. At the time, town officials were told the animal — Shirley’s first and only K-9 officer — had about two weeks to live.

The dog held out until early Sunday morning, Pryor said.

Members of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department’s K-9 team escorted the dog to a local funeral home, where he was cremated. His ashes will remain with the Pryor family.

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Because Shirley residents live in both Hancock and Henry counties, Charon and Pryor often were called out to assist with investigations on both sides of the county line as well as into Madison and Shelby counties, particularly with the Indiana State Police Department’s methamphetamine team.

After Charon fell ill, Pryor and his wife, Becki, started a fundraiser in hopes of training a replacement. They’d asked the community to donate $3,500 to send the new dog — a German shepherd named Justice — to a Texas-based training camp. So far, the online fundraiser has gone above and beyond that request, collecting nearly $15,000.

Justice begins training later this month.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.