Note: we are republishing this story in lieu of nationwide discussion regarding police accountability and the often strained relationship between police officers and their communities.
A Dothan, Alabama, police officer spearheaded a community effort to find and bring home the beloved dog of a girl who died in a deadly car crash.
The crash, which took the life of 19-year-old McKenzie Amanda Grace Catron, was so terrifying that it caused the young woman's dog, Kai, to run off.
"We felt we needed to find the dog," Sgt. Jonathan Whaley told WAGA. "We were going to do whatever we needed to do to reunite this dog with this family."
Whaley and his fellow officers initiated a search that soon included hundreds of community members. They searched the area of the crash, put up fliers and even offered a reward.
Benjamin Irwin, a lawyer whose firm put up the reward, spotted Kai two days after the search began.
"My wife and I, with this wonderful couple Allen and Brittany pursued Kai for over a mile and up and down too many city streets and made multiple attempts to catch Kai, until we finally created a loving wall when she went inside a persons shelter in their back yard," Irwin wrote in a Facebook post, WAGA reported.
"It was amazing as it started out with just me and the other gentleman Allen in the picture. Then my wife just happened to be in the area searching as well and she joined in. We apologize to all the cars and other people we cut off or just plain ignored while we focused solely on recovering [Kai].
"Over the city blocks and miles of both running and driving we found mutual friends who eventually jumped in and helped as well. Once our number was up to 8 people we were able to get [Kai] to relax enough for Brittany to be able to grab her collar. We gave [Kai] water and food at the spot but obviously she was too tired and anxious for either."
Kai was taken to a vet to be examined, and was ultimately found to be in good health other than being tired and dehydrated. Irwin decided to donate the reward he put up to the animal shelter from which Kai had originally come.
"If everybody would react this way our world would be such a better place," Sgt. Whaley said.
Many readers applauded the officer for going above and beyond to find the dog for the heartbroken young woman's family.
"This is what true Americans do all the time step up and do the right thing, thank you officer for bringing a family member home so the family can start healing good job sir," one reader commented on Facebook.
"Thank you Officer for bringing this dog home. He lost his companion I'm glad he didn't lose his family. You are a very special person," another wrote.
"God Bless all who searched for her dog and especially for the officer and his family who made the trip to reunite Kai too her family , also the Atty. For his generous reward to the shelter," another added.