When the Pittsburgh Police Department lost K-9 Officer Rocco due to stab wounds suffered in an incident over a week ago, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took notice. On Monday, Roethlisberger’s foundation announced that they are going to get Rocco’s longtime partner, Officer Phil Lerza, a new dog after receiving his blessing to do so.
“Rocco can never be replaced, but we only hope to help with the healing process and to provide Officer Lerza with another loyal partner,” read a statement on Roethlisberger’s official website.
Over the years, Roethlisberger has provided countless grants to police and fire departments throughout the U.S. with a particular emphasis on support for K-9 units and service dogs.
Last October, the Steelers quarterback became the first non-law enforcement individual to be honored with an award for his contributions to K-9 units of police and fire departments throughout the country by the Amen Corner, a local Pittsburgh organization that honors persons who make the community a better place to live.
“To be the first one outside of law enforcement to win this award it’s an awesome honor,” said Roethlisberger upon receiving the award. “The award means a lot to my foundation.”
A month prior to receiving that award Roethlisberger announced that he had lost his own dog, Zeus, to cancer.
As far as Rocco goes, he could soon have a new state law named in his honor as a bi-partisan bill called “Rocco’s Law” has been recently introduced by Pennsylvania Sen. Matt Smith of Mt. Lebanon and every state senator from Allegheny County to increase the penalty for those who severely injure or kill a police animal.
Rocco’s ashes were laid to rest last Friday in Pittsburgh at a memorial service with full police honors.