Should a Juvenile Serve 23 Years for Shooting a Retired Police Dog?

Should a Juvenile Serve 23 Years for Shooting a Retired Police Dog?

On a Sunday evening in November 2012, three teenagers crept up to the sliding glass door at the back of the Palm Beach home belonging to Robert Boody, a Florida highway patrolman they knew was out on the job. On the other side of the glass, a vicious, cantankerous German shepherd barked violently. One of the teens raised a gun and shot three bullets through the glass and into the canine.

The dog, still alive despite the bullets it just took, ran off as the intruders entered the home. Ivins Rosier, who at 16 was the youngest in the group, went to the master bedroom and rummaged around but didn't find much -- except for the dog, which was lying on the floor in the bathroom. According to police, that's when Ivins fired two to three shots into the dog. Now it was time to get out of there. The teenagers fled with $350 worth of goods, mainly watches and dress shirts.

Three days later, on a Wednesday afternoon, Ivins' mother, Nanci Sanon, an intensely religious woman originally from Haiti, heard thundering knocks at her front door.

"Palm Beach Sheriff's Office! We have a warrant! Open up!" they barked.

She obeyed and came face to face with the barrels of several guns: A 26-member SWAT team had surrounded her home, front and back. An armor-clad deputy grabbed the 51-year-old and pulled her out into the front yard. More deputies swooped into the modest, three-bedroom West Palm Beach home in search of Ivins. They found him lying in bed, wearing nothing but underwear. With several guns drawn on him, Ivins didn't dare move. A deputy slapped handcuffs on him and whisked him out of the house.

Sanon looked on helplessly as her 16-year-old son's skinny, five-foot-five frame trembled. "It was chilly, but he was shaking because he was scared, not because he was cold," she recalls. "I could hear the metal shaking."

It wasn't difficult to pin Ivins to the break-in. The teenager was on probation for a burglary and was wearing an ankle monitor, and GPS records showed he was at the Florida trooper's home on the night of the crime. Ivins actually thought the ankle monitor was broken because it didn't beep when he left his home. And it was broken in that respect, but the monitor was still able to keep track of Ivins' movements.

So when Detective Phillip DiMola sat Ivins down in a squad car and turned on his voice recorder, he laid out the situation, with a few exaggerations.

See also: If a Kid Can Get 23 Years in Prison for Killing a Dog, What About Cops Who Kill Dogs?

"You see these K9 dogs that are walking around the house?" DiMola said. "They are law enforcement, which means if the dog tried to bite you and you punch it, that's battery of a law enforcement officer. If you shoot that dog and he dies, that's murder of a law enforcement officer."

Although killing a police dog would be a third-degree felony, it would not count as murder, and besides, 5-year-old Drake was no longer on the force, having recently retired from the PBSO K9 unit due to a burned-out nose from too much drug-sniffing. But DiMola gave an ultimatum anyway: Confess to the shooting and face an animal cruelty charge or don't confess and face charges of shooting a cop, he told the teen.

"Will I go into a program or something?" Ivins asked.

"Probably. You're a juvenile," DiMola answered.

"Will it affect my school work? Can I still go to a university?" Ivins countered.

DiMola said confessing wouldn't impact Ivins future plans.

"Ivins, help me to help you, because as soon as we part, I won't be able to help you," DiMola said. "I see a little guy in front of me. I see a 16-year-old boy who just told me he wants to go to college, that he wants to make something of himself, and I never hear 'college' out of kids. You're in 11th grade. You know, it sounds like you want to have a future."


Should a Juvenile Serve 23 Years for Shooting a Retired Police Dog?
Illustration by Mark Poutenis

Ivins eventually mumbled that he shot Drake "two or three times" in the master bedroom but denied shooting the first bullets through the sliding glass door -- and he wouldn't say who did.

Yet there would be no leniency for Ivins. Local news would plaster his name and face next to images of a bandaged-up dog. Infuriated dog lovers would seek revenge for the death of Drake. Their calls would be heard by prosecutors, who would utilize a one-two punch of Florida laws to charge Ivins as an adult, resulting in an extraordinarily long sentence for a teenager.

It's two years longer than the average time served in Florida for murder.

Florida's "direct file" law gives prosecutors -- not judges -- the power to decide whether teenagers are charged as juveniles rather than adults. The measure has long been decried by defense attorneys and juvenile advocates and was spotlighted by human rights activists in a report last year. Direct file, critics say, denies the youngest citizens access to a system that was designed precisely to address their age and immaturity.

Prosecutors called Ivins a "career criminal" and chose to charge him as an adult -- a decision the state attorney defends to this day. Then, because of Florida's mandatory minimum sentencing laws, he faced a minimum of 20 years because his crime involved a gun. So instead of being sentenced to a three-year juvenile program based on rehabilitation or receiving a "youthful offender" sentence of six years -- likely outcomes had he been granted leniency due to his age -- Ivins got slammed with a 23-year sentence in state prison for killing a dog. That's seven years longer than he had been alive. It's two years longer than the average time served in Florida for murder.

Hours after Ivins and his two friends fled, Florida Highway Patrolman Robert Boody returned home from his shift to find his back door shattered with bullet holes and his home ransacked. He was alarmed that his dog did not greet him.

Boody, 36 years old, scoured the home for Drake. He found his dog lying next to the bed, barely alive. The loyal canine tried to stand to greet his master but couldn't muster the strength. Boody gathered Drake into his arms and rushed him to his veterinarian, Ken Simmons, in Greenacres. Drake had four bullet wounds, including two near his snout, and had lost a great deal of blood, but there was a chance he could pull through.

Soon, the media would be reporting the harrowing story of a brave police dog who tried to defend his home and got shot in cold blood by a ruthless criminal.

If there were ever a made-for-local-TV story with a perfect cast, this was it.

"The press started to show up on my doorstep because they heard a police dog had been shot and was being treated," Simmons remembers. "Before long, it was like twice-a-day medical updates as if the president had been shot."

Words like "heroic," "brave," and "courageous" were peppered throughout the news scripts, read aloud over images of a bandaged-up Drake being cuddled by his master -- a young, clean-cut, cherub-faced patrolman who clearly loved his dog. Boody even gave great interviews, speaking seemingly from the heart. If there were ever a made-for-local-TV story with a perfect cast, this was it.

What TV news started, the internet took to new levels. Facebook pages devoted to dogs picked up the story and helped it go viral. With the outpouring of compassion came an outpouring of cash.

"We didn't ask for it," Simmons says. "We didn't set up a fund or anything -- people just started sending money."

Saving Drake was an international effort. People from Israel, Sweden, and the U.K. contributed to Drake's medical bills, which ended up costing nearly $27,000 -- easily paid with the approximately $30,000 the world sent in.

Unfortunately, not even a vet bill the price of a brand-new Acura was enough to save Drake from the bullets he took. After five days of intense medical procedures, including an emergency plane ride to a University of Florida veterinary center in Gainesville for one last shot at treatment, Boody decided to relieve Drake of the pain. The former police dog was put to sleep a day after Thanksgiving.

"We felt so bad for this dog because after the surgery, he was nice -- he was a sweetheart," Simmons says. "It was such a transformation from the crazy dog that we knew before -- the Drake that would eat you alive if you came near him."

On a Facebook page titled "Prayers for Drake -- The Amazing K9 German Shepherd Shot Four Times," hundreds of commenters expressed their condolences, and many were confident that Drake would be greeted in heaven by God and taken to paradise.

"In the arms of His Creator, He will be loved forever, and his legacy will be honorable, God bless and comfort all those who love him," wrote Dee Wingfield from Florida. One supporter submitted an illustration of a long-haired angel guiding Drake down a suburban street, both glowing in holy evanescence.

As the world was striving to save Drake, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office released Ivins' name and face to the public. Normally, juveniles are spared the public-shaming process of being accused of a crime. But not this time. A mug shot and a few seconds of video footage of Ivins in handcuffs and a blue jumpsuit appearing before a judge aired on some stations. Often, the mug shot was juxtaposed next to a photo of a hospitalized Drake looking sadly into the camera.

Anonymous internet outrage spread like a digital wildfire.


Should a Juvenile Serve 23 Years for Shooting a Retired Police Dog?
Illustration by Mark Poutenis

A petition urged Drake supporters to bombard Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg with letters, emails, and phone calls. The 9,000 people who signed it asked the young, Harvard-educated prosecutor to punish Ivins to the fullest extent of the law.

"ABSOLUTELY NO PLEA DEALS ON THIS CHARGE," wrote Billie Young from New Smyrna, Florida. "There was NO REASON for the KILLER to have shot an innocent dog, especially a K-9 that is trained as an enforcer of the law."

Vicky Frederick from Canada had a less sympathetic take.

"JUST KILL HIM!" she wrote.

For Ivins' family, seeing their loved one targeted with such vitriol was debilitating. Ivins was being vilified as a monster who deserved to be executed instead of a kid who made a stupid decision.

"I don't watch the news anymore," says Ivins' mother, Nanci. "People were looking at us like we're evil. We're not evil. I didn't raise my kids to be evil. So what happened to my kids could happen to anybody's kid."

Three years after arriving in Florida from Haiti in 1999, Nanci's husband, Isaac, died. While working at a golf course in Palm Beach, he ate something that led to a severe case of food poisoning. Ivins Rosier was only 5 years old. Despite the hardship, Nanci raised her five kids alone or, as she tells it, with help from God -- "the only thing I know," she says.

Both of her daughters are now in their 20s and married. Her oldest son, Isaac, is now 30 and works as a security officer. Another son, Ivenor, 20 years old, earned a basketball scholarship to attend Kentucky's University of the Cumberlands, where he's majoring in sports and exercise science. He spoke to New Times from his dorm.

Ivins "really was just a good kid," Ivenor says. "He liked to read; he was really good at math. He was a smart, caring kid."

"Ivins was so good to me," Nanci says. "I was involved in an accident, and I have spine problems. Ivins watched me like a baby -- 'Mommy, I don't want you to do this, I don't want you to do that. I'm going to mop the floor; I'm going to do this.'"

But Ivins' bookish, doting attitude receded around the age of 15, his family says, when he started hanging out with a few older kids and began dabbling in drugs like marijuana and pills. Whether due to peer pressure or teenage growing pains, he changed pretty drastically around this time, they say.

"He just stopped listening to me, my mom," Ivenor says. "He just started doing his own thing and was always angry and very aggressive."

But even before the big change, Ivins had a few run-ins with the law, for which prosecutors would later describe him as a "career criminal."

Ivins' juvenile criminal record is sealed, but on July 21, 2014, Aronberg wrote an op-ed article for the Palm Beach Post that announced, without context, the charges the teen had racked up. Aronberg sought to justify Ivins's 23-year sentence, arguing that it should have been even longer.

"In 2008, [Ivins] pleaded guilty to robbery by sudden snatching," Aronberg wrote. "In 2009, he pleaded guilty to battery. In 2010, he pleaded guilty to lewd and lascivious behavior and kidnapping of a victim under 12 years old. In 2012, he pleaded guilty of resisting an officer without violence. Later in 2012, he pleaded guilty to burglary and grand theft of a dwelling."

The Palm Beach prosecutor added: "And yet each time, prosecutors and judges responded with light juvenile sanctions in the hope of rehabilitating someone who refused to be rehabilitated."

Aronberg's office wouldn't divulge more details about the charges, but family members and a counselor who worked with Ivins say they were not as serious as they sound.

Yvonne Rose-Green, a Riviera Beach-based mental health counselor who runs a private practice, Helping Hand Counseling Services, worked with Ivins during a 12-week intervention program. She met Ivins in 2010 after the "lewd and lascivious behavior and kidnapping" charge. Rose-Green says that charge was a result of Ivins' getting caught in a middle-school washroom with a girl, who told the teacher she had been pulled into the room.

Rose-Green says Ivins helped her translate for kids whose Creole was better than their English. She also says his FCAT scores were 5s, placing him in the top 20 percentile in the state.

"I lobbied for the school board to have him removed from the alternative school [where he had been sent after the bathroom incident] and placed back in normal high school," Rose-Green explains. As a result, Ivins was placed in honors-level classes in Royal Palm Beach Community High School. But he found trouble again.


Should a Juvenile Serve 23 Years for Shooting a Retired Police Dog?
Illustration by Mark Poutenis

"He had a juvenile record, but they were really minor things," says his attorney, Jack Fleischman. "The state made it seem like he was a monster, but they exaggerated the record."

When Rose-Green heard of the dog shooting, she was taken aback by how Ivins was being portrayed in the media. She went to see him at the juvenile detention center to talk to him in person.

"The cops were saying that he was a kid without remorse," Rose-Green says. "When I went to see him, I saw a kid who was lost, trying to understand, 'Why was I so stupid? What did I do?' That's what I saw on his face. It's not that he didn't have any remorse. He knew his life was over. He knew this was something serious that was going to cost him dearly."

Rose-Green, who has worked with juveniles for more than 15 years, says, "I've worked with many kids in the system, and I don't think Ivins deserves 23 years. Absolutely not. I've worked with kids who did manslaughter and got three to four years in a juvenile program. Why not let him stay in a juvenile program until he's 21 years old and then put him on probation?"

She points out the "affluenza" story of white 16-year-old Texas teen Ethan Couch, who was given ten years' probation and no prison time for killing four people in a drunk-driving case from February 2014. She also points out the story of 13-year-old Nathaniel Brazill, who in 2000 murdered his teacher and was sentenced to 28 years in prison.

Aronberg has little sympathy: "He was exactly the type of juvenile that the direct-file law was made for."

"And you give a kid -- and that's what he is, a kid -- 23 years for killing a dog?" she says.

To Palm Beach County prosecutors, the answer was yes. Ivins was "a career criminal who did not respond to juvenile treatment he received prior to shooting a police dog in cold blood," according to Aronberg. So using the leeway afforded him under Florida's direct-file law, he charged the 16-year-old as an adult, eliminating any chance of a long-term juvenile program.

Even today, Aronberg has little sympathy for the young man, telling New Times: "He was exactly the type of juvenile that the direct-file law was made for."

Aronberg's depiction of Ivins as a ruthless criminal who was too corrupted for juvenile rehabilitation sounds like something straight out of the 1990s, when criminologists popularized the idea that a spike in juvenile crime would give rise to a future generation of killer kids who would cause unprecedented mayhem.

The surge in violent juvenile crime was real. Nationally, in 1987, there were 300 arrests for every 100,000 juveniles between the ages of 10 and 17 for violent crimes, including murder, nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, according to numbers from the U.S. Department of Justice. By 1993, that rate had increased to 500 arrests per 100,000 juveniles.

Based on this spike, Dr. John DiIulio, then a Princeton University professor, coined the term "Super Predators," which would catch on as a label to describe the future generation of kids.

In the 1990s, when criminologists popularized the idea that a spike in juvenile crime would give rise to a future generation of killer kids who would cause unprecedented mayhem.

In his essay titled "The Coming of the Super Predators," published in the Weekly Standard in 1995, DiIulio wrote that some of society's most dangerous people were young children and that it would only get worse: "We're talking about boys whose voices have yet to change. We're talking about elementary school youngsters who pack guns instead of lunches. We're talking about kids who have absolutely no respect for human life and no sense of the future. In short, we're talking big trouble that hasn't yet begun to crest."

In a 1996 essay titled "My Black Crime Problem, and Ours," published in urban policy magazine City Journal, DiIulio predicted that 50 percent of these super predators would be black.

"[T]he number of young black criminals is likely to surge, but also the black crime rate, both black-on-black and black-on-white, is increasing, so that as many as half of these juvenile super-predators could be young black males," he wrote.

The media and other like-minded criminologists, including Northwestern University Professor James Fox, sounded the alarm. Politicians grew eager to be "tough on crime."

"There are no violent offenses that are juvenile," railed then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. "You rape somebody, you're an adult. You shoot somebody, you're an adult."

States enhanced their juvenile punishment laws, including expanding the range of offenses for which kids could be charged as adults. In 1994, Florida legislators introduced the Juvenile Justice Reform Act, which, among other reforms, sought to strengthen punishments of juveniles and increase prosecutors' power to charge kids as adults through a process called "direct file," the process of charging juveniles as adults through a prosecutor's discretion rather than a judge's individual assessment. That process had been on the books since 1978 but was limited to juveniles with previous violent felonies. The new 1994 law expanded the range of eligibility to first-time violent offenders and to juveniles charged with property crimes and misdemeanors, if the juvenile had two previous felonies.

The 1994 bill was inspired by a violent-crime wave in 1993 that threatened Florida's tourism industry. Six foreign tourists were killed in a six-month span that year, including Jorg Schell, a German who was shot and killed by 16-year-old Damon Peterson.

However, by the time most of these new laws were enacted, the spike in juvenile crime had begun to subside. By 1997, juvenile arrests for violent crimes decreased to 400 per 100,000. By 2000, the numbers were back to 1987 levels. And by 2011, numbers dumped down to 200, the lowest in more than 30 years. Researchers have suggested various reasons for this drop: the end of the 1980s crack epidemic, a stronger economy, less lead in gasoline.

Whatever the explanation for the decrease, the idea of the "super predators" proved to be false. Even DiIulio admitted he was wrong and wrote essays to assuage the effects of his mistaken predictions -- harsh sentences doled out to juveniles.

"I couldn't write fast enough to curb the reaction,'' he told the New York Times in a 2001 interview.

In January 2012, DiIulio, along with Professor Fox, signed an amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiff in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Miller v. Alabama. That case revolved around Evan Miller, who was just 14 years old when he and an older teenager were accused of setting fire to a neighbor's home, which resulted in the neighbor's death.He was sentenced to life without parole, and his lawyers appealed on grounds that such a sentence for a juvenile was unconstitutional. His lawyers relied on Graham v. Florida, a 2008 case that held that life-without-parole sentences for juveniles for crimes excluding murder are cruel and unusual punishment.


Later that year, the court sided with them, signifying a dramatic shift in how juvenile sentences ought to be handled.

"Mandatory life without parole for a juvenile precludes consideration of his chronological age and its hallmark features -- among them, immaturity, impetuosity, and failure to appreciate risks and consequences," Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the opinion. "It prevents taking into account the family and home -environment that surrounds him -- and from which he cannot usually extricate himself -- no matter how brutal or dysfunctional."

Five months after Kagan wrote those words, on June 25, 2012, Ivins would be charged as an adult on charges of shooting into a building, burglary while armed with a firearm, and felony cruelty to animals with a firearm.

Prosecutors offered Ivins a plea deal of 20 years, but the teenager instead decided to plead not guilty and take his chances at trial, which began on April 30, 2014, and lasted three days. Charging Ivins as an adult, prosecutors sought the maximum sentence: 30 years in state prison. That would keep him locked up until age 46 for killing a retired police dog.

His attorney, Fleischman, says testimony focused almost entirely on the pain and suffering Drake endured.

News clippings describe how Simmons, the veterinarian, testified about the damage from the bullets and the procedures taken to heal the dog. Boody, the Florida highway patrolman, also took the stand, breaking down in tears as he recalled the pain his dog went through.

Ivins never denied being in the house, but he denied shooting the dog.

Sure, he'd confessed right after his arrest, but Fleischman argued it was coerced, citing Detective DiMola's fib about shooting a retired police dog being equal to shooting a human police officer.

No weapon was ever found, and Ivins' DNA was not recovered at the scene of the crime. Of the teens with him during the robbery, 19-year-old Gilson Gilles got seven years for armed robbery and animal cruelty, and the other was a juvenile whose record is shielded from public view.

Fleischman argued that it was impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his client shot the dog. But that didn't sway the jury: Ivins Rosier was found guilty of all three charges.

Prosecutor Judith Arco said Ivins deserved hard time.

"He's not a child," she told the jury matter-of-factly.

By the time Ivins had his trial, he had been locked up in the Palm Beach Juvenile Detention Center since his arrest -- about 18 months -- and was now 18. Volunteer pastors at the facility say Ivins renewed his interest in the Bible, and he even finished his high school education, earning a diploma.

During a graduation ceremony, complete with hats and gowns, Ivins' mother felt conflicted: happy he completed high school but not sure what good it would do.

"It wasn't like his brothers' graduations -- he was in jail," Nanci says, sighing as she looks away.

Had Ivins been charged as a juvenile, he would have likely continued in a similar rehabilitation and education-focused program. Heather DiGiacomo, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, says convicted juveniles get assessed and placed in programs tailored to their needs, such as anger management or drug counseling. Detainments are usually between 18 and 36 months.

Education is also mandatory in these programs, unlike in state prisons. Ivins could likely have completed some online college courses and a vocational program. The facilities are also small (around 60 beds), and efforts are made to keep inmates close to home so family can make regular visits. In Ivins' case, he ended up 120 miles from home, at the Desoto Annex, a 1,400-bed, medium-security adult prison in Arcadia, Florida.

Charged as an adult, however, he faced a minimum of 20 years in state prison under Florida's 10-20-life law -- a sentencing scheme that became law under Gov. Jeb Bush in 1999. The law mandates minimum sentences for a wide range of felonies in which the convicted has a firearm. The rule is ten years for possession of a gun during a felony act, 20 years for firing the gun, and 25 to life for shooting a person. Ivins' case mandated 20 years.

Still, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Robin Rosenberg could have opted to sentence Ivins as a "youthful offender" and handed Ivins a six-year sentence in a facility with other youths of similar age.

But Rosenberg, who would be confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a federal judgeship one month later, refused to use that option. Instead, she handed down the 20-year sentence and added three more for the animal cruelty conviction -- a total of 23 years.

Ivins' brother Ivenor made the trip down from Kentucky to take his mother to the sentencing hearing. "My mom cried. I just stood there. Reporters wanted to talk to my mom, but we didn't want to talk to anybody. They just made Ivins seem like a bad person. His face was literally all over the place -- on the front page, on TV. It just pissed me off."

Fleischman still advocates for his client's innocence and is working on an appeal. But even if guilty, Fleischman says, a 23-year sentence for killing a dog is incredibly unreasonable.

"If the state insists on not using the juvenile justice system we have, then why have it? They might as well get rid of it altogether," he says. "There's a reason why we have a juvenile justice system in place, and it's because throughout history, there has been an acknowledgment that kids are different than adults."

In April 2014, Human Rights Watch published a report dedicated to "direct file" titled "Branded for Life" that argued that the Sunshine State's tendency to charge kids as adults is out of control. Fourteen other states have some sort of direct-file law, but Florida uses it the most. In other states, youths are assessed by psychologists, and judges decide how they're charged.

"From 2003 to 2008, Florida transferred youth to adult court at 1.7 times the rate of Oregon, the state with the second-highest transfer rate, and 2 times the rate of Arizona, the state with the third-highest transfer rate," the report says.

"It's a very harsh tool for a problem that never existed, and it continues to be used in cases where there's no need," says Alba Morales, lead author of the report. "And here you have a mechanism that allows a single individual in the form of a prosecutor who can override [a -checks-and-balances process]. And there's no real control over how they can use it."

Florida Department of Juvenile Justice statistics show that black juveniles are direct-filed at a far greater rate than white children.


"Black boys make up 27.2 percent of children arrested for crime, but account for 51.4 percent of youth sent to adult court; whereas white boys make up 28 percent of children arrested and account for only 24.4 percent of youth tried in adult court," the report says.

"Florida should stop its widespread practice of saddling children with adult felony records that offer no recognition of their capacity to change," writes Morales. Her report recommended that legislators repeal direct file.

In Palm Beach County, nearly 60 percent of the population is white, but over the past five years, only 230 white juveniles have been direct-filed to adult court -- about 23 percent of all such transfers. Blacks, meanwhile, make up 18 percent of the population but account for 66 percent of direct-file cases, with 616 cases. However, the total number of direct-file cases has been decreasing over the past few years. In 2008-09, the county saw 397 direct-file cases. By 2012-13, that number had gone down to 107.

Still, a search of juveniles sentenced as adults in Palm Beach court shows that none has a sentence near the length of Ivins', even for armed robbery and aggravated assault. Of the nine state prisoners under the age of 18 from Palm Beach, most sentences were for about two years. The longest was six years, given to a 16-year-old who was convicted in 2013 on two charges of robbery with a deadly weapon and one charge of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

In a letter he wrote to Nanci around Thanksgiving, Ivins describes a lesson he learned in church.

"The priest was talking about the ark of the covenant, but what stuck with me was when he was talking about the jar of Manna," Ivins wrote. "Mom, I believe you remember the story how God told the people of Israel to go out every morning and get the bread from heaven. If they tried to save it for the next day, it spoils. But the point of the story is God provides everyday -- it's always fresh blessings that we take for granted."

The Simmons Veterinary Hospital and Pet Hotel in Greenacres is a canine paradise. The boarding area contains spacious rooms, including the "presidential suite," which comes equipped with a sunroof and flat-screen television. Outside is a shallow pool equipped with a water fountain. A misting system keeps dogs cool on hot days. Near the front desk is a sign that says, "Dogs are people, too."

After Drake was euthanized, Ken Simmons started a Kickstarter fund to erect a memorial in honor of Drake and all police dogs. He raised more than $15,000. Today, on the grounds of Simmons' pet resort is a life-sized bronze statue of Drake, sitting atop a platform with plaques honoring fallen police dogs -- most of which died after "retirement."

Since the monument was erected in 2013, there have been two ceremonies to honor the K9 cops. The last ceremony, on June 23, 2014 -- just three weeks before Ivins would be sentenced -- was a lavish affair, with 200 police standing in salute as a police bagpipe band played taps.

Aronberg addressed the crowd:

"It's said that a society is judged by how it treats the most vulnerable amongst us, and that's why I, as state attorney, have made it a priority to make sure that animal cruelty cases are taken most seriously, and it's why we have a dedicated prosecutor to go after these cases. Another reason why we made it a priority is because of my best friend: Cookie, the basset hound," the attorney said with a smile.

He continued: "The Drake case was a test of our resolve, a test of our dedication to the principle that every life matters, whether it's the life of a human being, a pet, or a canine officer."

Ivins' scheduled release date is November 25, 2035. He will be 39 years old.

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