BUFFALO, N.Y. — When asked what it meant for her brother to be teamed up with K-9 Officer Shield, Donna Wilson doesn't hesitate.
"The world. I mean, he gave up his military career so he could focus on having Shield," said Wilson, Buffalo Police Officer Craig Lehner's sister.
Lehner's death didn't just leave Shield without a partner.
“The remaining dog handlers all have more than 20 years, so Craig was our future. It was devastating," said K-9 Unit Commander Salvatore Losi.
The future of the K-9 unit is what brought a crowd people to Club Marcella Thursday night. Workers organized a benefit whose proceeds will all go toward buying BPD a new dog to be trained as a K-9 officer.
Losi says the K-9s not only protect officers, they also play key roles in drug and explosives investigations. He says additional dogs would let him have K-9 teams on duty 24/7.
Marcella says the club has been absolutely overwhelmed with community support. More than 100 baskets have been donated to help raise money for the police department, and officers say it's support like this that helps with the healing process.
"This is the medicine," said BPD Lt. Jeff Rinaldo. "When the community comes together, when average people see you on the street and they just want to shake your hand or hug you for being an officer, they just want to give you their condolences, that helps."
And it's hoped the benefit will help Officer Lehner's legacy live on.