Hometown Hero: K9 Corporal AJ - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Hometown Hero: K9 Corporal AJ

EFFINGHAM CO., GA (WTOC) -

Someone who serves her county and her community can be considered a hero - even when that someone is a dog. 

Folks in Athens will have to share their most affectionate form of praise this week, as Effingham County remembers its own Damn Good Dog. 

"She loved working. She didn't mind working. She would give 100 percent every time you took her out," said Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie, Effingham County Sheriff's Office. 

People in Effingham got to know Arasja, or AJ, at school events and county fairs, but they came to respect the K9 Corporal's work as a critical member of the sheriff's office - a patrol dog who helped keep drugs off Effingham streets, and also with arrests. 

"A lof of times, you holler, 'taster, taster,' and it doesn't phase them - but you holler 'dog,' and they look back," said Sheriff McDuffie. 

AJ passed away earlier this week at the age of 12 and after a career of service - first with the Army Ranger Division and then with the Effingham County Sheriff's Office before retiring three years ago. She was living as a pet with her former handler, former deputy Ryan Williams. She's remembered as a friend, and an asset, to the entire Effingham community. 

"These dogs go through a massive amount of training to get started, and then they're with the handler 24-hours a day, seven days a week. They get out, they hustle. They run, they work hard, and they do a good job. They probably work harder than most deputies I know," the sheriff said. 

AJ's work is now carried on in Effingham County by two K9s. Her legacy endures as a hero of that community - A WTOC Hometown Hero. 

"She was just friendly I guess is the best way to say it; just a nice dog, easy to get along with. She had done a lot of good work for us. She will be missed, especially by Jason," Sheriff McDuffie said. 

AJ was a Belgian Malinois. Sheriff McDuffie, who is celebrating his 15th Anniversary on the job, says his office plans to find a way to commemorate AJ's contributions to the community. 

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