CAPE CORAL, Fla. - The parents of a Pennsylvania police officer, who was killed four years ago, have come up with a way to honor his memory. Officer Nathan Burnfield always wanted to be a K-9 handler.
On Monday, his parents gifted a K-9 named "Nate" to the Cape Coral Police Department.
"Nate the K-9" has been on the force for about a month, but on Monday he got his official welcome into the Cape Coral Police Department. It took a year of hard work and fundraising to make this a reality for the fallen officer's family.
He's the Cape Coral Police Department's newest four legged officer. Much like the man he was named after, "Nate" will patrol the streets to keep the city safe.
But he wouldn't be here without Rick and Debra Burnfield. "It's just a dream come true for us. We are so excited. Everybody back home is excited," said Debra.
In November 2008, their son Officer Nathan Burnfield was hit by a vehicle as he stopped to clear a tire from Interstate 70, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Burnfield, who was also a volunteer firefighter, was 27 years old.
"He would probably be looking down saying everybody's making a fuss out of it. Making too much out of it. He was only doing his job at that time," Debra said.
K-9 patrol officer Tracy Hudak was his co-worker and friend. "That was his ultimate goal to get a K-9 dog. So my nickname for him was always Nate-Dog, Basically because of that reason!" she said.
This isn't the first time the Burnfield family has donated to the Cape Coral Police Department,.
In 2011 they donated 2 ballistic K-9 vests, bearing their son's name.
With the donation of Nate, the police department has six working K-9 teams.
"He probably would be smiling down saying really? A dog? But Nathan was a jokester and I think he'd be very very honored that we did this to him. It's an honor and a thrill for us to know that "Nathan" is going to be out on the streets," said Debra.
The family also has a scholarship in their son's name in Pennsylvania. The Brotherhood of Nathaniel Burnfield helps students who have goals of becoming a police officer, or firefighter.