On July 14, a man was shot and killed at a Walmart Neighborhood Market in Springfield, Missouri.
According to KNWA-TV, 33-year-old Tanner Stichka was shot when an altercation broke out after he approached a van in front of the store that was reportedly making a pharmaceutical delivery.
Unbeknownst to first responders, Stichka’s dog was still in his parked car, waiting for his owner to return. As temperatures for the days neared the 90s, someone noticed the dog in the car and called police.
An hour and a half after the incident, Springfield police were notified and were quickly able to remove the Siberian husky, Zeke, from the unlocked car.
The Springfield Police Department posted photos of the dog and his story. Zeke appeared to be enjoying his ride in the police car, a fact that many commenters pointed out.
“We’ve received several questions about a dog, named Zeke, that belonged to the victim from yesterday’s fatal shooting incident at the Walmart Neighborhood Market on S Glenstone,” the police shared.
“About an hour and a half after the shooting, we got a call about Zeke in a hot car. When officers arrived, the door was unlocked and they were able to remove him and transport him to a local vet.
“SPD Officer Victoria Myers sat with Zeke before he was able to be admitted for the night. While at the vet, a good samaritan donated $100 for Zeke’s care.
“This morning Officers Adamson and Bashioum picked up Zeke and took him to his regular vet where he is waiting to be picked up by family.”
“Thank you to our community for your care and concern! Zeke is doing well!”
Many who knew the victim or had seen Zeke at the store commented to express their relief that the dog was picked up and cared for so well.
“Was at the Emergency Vet last night when he came in, the officer with him was so kind to him,” Mandie Meyer wrote. “(Didn’t know the back story) He looked happy to have found a safe friend.”
Though the cause of the altercation and any motives have not been made public, family defended Stichka’s love of his dog after people started questioning his judgment for leaving Zeke in the car in the first place.
“Zeke was Tanners entire world and never would have intentionally put him in any danger,” Liz Calder wrote. “Tanner has a family and friends along with a community who are mourning the loss of such a great guy.”
Several family members piped up, too, to say Zeke was incredibly important to Tanner and would be cherished as the last link to the late Stichka.
“Tanner is my cousin I think my aunt and uncle are going to take him in,” Tyler Mallory wrote. “I would love to see him when I go back to Nebraska to be with everyone.”
“We, Tanner’s family can’t thank the men and women of the Springfield dept. for all they have done and continue to do for us,” Rich Stichka commented. “The people of Springfield should take pride of these officer’s and all they do, including taking care of a very lonely dog. He will forever will be a part of our family.”
A man was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder but was later released when no charges were pressed, and Zeke has since been returned to Stichka’s family.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.