The only pair of its kind in West Virginia, an unlikely K9 deputy and his handler are making a big impact on the community, keeping the streets safe and redefining what it means to be man's best friend.
Deputy Sheriff Nate Klempa calls his K9 partner Spartan the best tool in his toolbox.
"Our job is pretty dangerous but you know the risks going into it," said Klempa, who is a K9 handler at the Marshall County Sheriff's Department.
Klempa and Spartan train every day before they even step into their uniforms or cruiser, which equals over 16 hours of scheduled training each month. Staying sharp can be a matter of life for the pair.
"If we have suspects with warrants, as soon as they see him, they don't want to play around anymore," Klempa said. He adds, "When it comes to the drug epidemic, Spartan has been able to put quite a significant dent in just the few months that he has been on the road."
Marshall County covers 312 miles, with a limited number of deputies, rural terrain and weather - backup could be over an hour away.
"I know he has my back no matter what. His only concern whether or not we're at work or at home is where I'm at, what I'm doing and if I'm OK, he'll check he'll come back OK there's Dad, then he'll go back and keep working," Klempa said.
Spartan answers commands in German, for eight hours a day, this narcotics tracking team means business, but they still manage to have fun.
"And he doesn't mind my singing when we're driving around in the car like a human partner would probably get pretty irritated at that," Klempa joked.
From his beard to his tail wag, people instantly love Spartan, especially kids. Officer Klempa said his partner helps humanize what it means to protect and serve. "Especially having a partner that catches attention as much as he does, that they were able to actually retain that and take that home with them to realize hey, the police aren't bad," he said.
Officer Klempa said it was always his goal to risk his life and serve the Ohio Valley. When he hangs up Spartan's leash and collar each night, he knows he couldn't do it without his best friend by his side.
"He would let himself get hurt before he would ever let me get hurt and that's a bond that, that's a bond that really sets him apart from everybody else. It's just me and him, no matter what," Klempa said.
Spartan and Deputy Klempa have agreements with other agencies and assist across the Ohio Valley whenever they are needed.
Beyond the Badge is a new series that WTRF 7News is proud to sponsor along with Quaker Steak and Lube at the Highlands.
"The Lube" said it's the least they can do to show their appreciation for the men and women who keep the Ohio Valley safe every day.
"We're just excited to help the guys that everyday risk their lives to go out so we want to give something back just to give something back it's just to show them our appreciation for what they do for our community," Marketing Manager Christine Thomas said.
Every day at Quaker Steak and Lube, first responders get 20 percent off their meals.
If you know an office who goes above and beyond the call of duty, e-mail Tessa at firstname.lastname@example.org or message her on Facebook.
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