Investigation continues as remains of slain service dog returned to family

Gunner (Source: Facebook)
Gunner (Source: Facebook)

WALTON, KY (FOX19) - Authorities are continuing to investigate the disappearance and death of a veteran's service dog in Kentucky.

Meanwhile, Gunner's remains have been returned to his family.

"It isn't the way we wanted him to be home, but he's here," said Kimberly Vallandingham.

Kimberly and Bryan Vallandingham said their Husky, Gunner, had been outside for fewer than 10 minutes when he was taken from their yard in January. The search efforts went national but came to an end Jan. 29 when the dog was discovered dead near railroad tracks along Dixie Highway.

He'd been fatally shot.

Gunner, the family said, was not only a member of the family but a trained service dog who helped spot Bryan Vallandingham's seizures. Bryan is a 14-year Army veteran and has medical issues.

RELATED | Veteran's missing service dog found dead after weeks-long search

Gunner's ashes are inside an urn that features his paw print and picture. Some of his ashes are also inside a necklace that Bryan Vallandingham wears over his heart.

"For justice to be served, that's what we're hoping for," Kimberly Vallandingham said.

Boone County Sheriff's deputies are working to figure out who took Gunner and who killed him. The investigation is ongoing.

While the grief has been unbearable at times, the family said the community support has not only been strong, but spectacular. Donations that have come in from strangers and businesses like the Tri-State Noah Project and Faithful Friends Pet Memory Center are covering the cost of the cremation, urn, and an ornament.
"We've had contacts from Wisconsin, from Florida, from Canada," Kimberly Vallandingham said. "It's crazy."
Although Gunner is irreplaceable, the family is also getting two incredible gifts: two dogs.
"We did get a German Shepherd pup. It took to my son for some reason, like crazy, and he's raising that one," she said. "We'll be raising the Husky pup to be for my husband's seizures."
It's a light amidst the darkness that's been hovering since Gunner's passing and another way to honor the legacy of a dog that's made an unforgettable impact both near and far.

The Vallandinghams said someone also donated security cameras to them Thursday.

There is still a GoFundMe page collecting donations. Kimberly Vallandingham said that money will go toward the new puppy's medical care and training.

If you know anything about Gunner's disappearance or death, call authorities.

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