***Note to media members: Officer Blair will be available for interview via Zoom upon request on Monday, Sept. 20 and Tuesday, Sept. 21 (subject to availability). To request an interview please email PIO Ryan Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org.***
SPRINGFIELD — Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood is pleased to announce that Springfield Police Officer Eric Blair and his K9 partner Mr. Warner were awarded the 2021 Animal Hero Award by the Dakin Humane Society during their Humane Awards ceremony on Sunday.
Officer Blair and K9 Mr. Warner received the award at Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton as part of Dakin’s Barks & Brews charity fundraiser. Proceeds from the Barks & Brews event directly support Dakin Humane Society’s mission to deliver effective, innovative services that improve the lives of animals in need and the people who care about them.
“I am proud of our entire K9 Unit, and this accomplishment by Mr. Warner exemplifies what a successful career he has had,” Commissioner Clapprood said. “Officer Blair and K9 Mr. Warner are well-deserving of this award and it shows how dedicated our officers and our K9s are in serving and working toward the betterment of our community.”
Mr. Warner, who will be retiring later this year, has assisted in hundreds of arrests in his career, including firearms cases, narcotics cases, armed robberies and break-ins. Mr. Warner has also assisted numerous surrounding agencies in their investigations, including the Massachusetts State Police, with missing persons searches and other investigations.
“This is truly a great honor for me and Mr. Warner,” said K9 Officer Blair. “I’d like to thank the Dakin Humane Society, everyone who nominated us and Commissioner Clapprood who is a huge supporter of our K9 Unit. We come to work everyday just ready to help in our city or any of our surrounding communities that may need our assistance.”
Officer Blair has been a member of the Springfield Police Department since 2011 and Mr. Warner joined the department in 2014 as his partner. Some of Officer Blair’s and Mr. Warner’s career highlights include:
- August 2020 – Officer Blair and K9 Mr. Warner assisted the Agawam Police Department during a narcotics investigation that resulted in Mr. Warner locating a large amount of drugs. The previous day Mr. Warner assisted the Wilbraham Police Department in locating a missing elderly man.
- February 2020 – Mr. Warner assisted in getting a suspect who was believed to be armed to comply with officers’ orders to show his hands. After the suspect was taken into custody, Mr. Warner tracked and located the firearm involved in the incident.
- October 2019 – Mr. Warner successfully tracked two armed robbery suspects, leading officers to arrest the suspects in Ludlow. Multiple armed robberies occurred in both Springfield and Ludlow prior to the arrests being made.
- June 2019 – Officer Blair and Mr. Warner received the North American Police Dog Association’s Outstanding Service Award for their role in two incidents in November 2018 leading to the arrests of four individuals and the seizure of an illegal firearm and BB gun.
“Congratulations to Officer Eric Blair and his K9 partner Mr. Warner,” said Mayor Domenic J. Sarno. “This is a great honor for our brave and dedicated SPD K9 Unit. I want to thank the Dakin Humane Society for holding this event and acknowledging the great work Officer Blair and K9 Mr. Warner do every day. Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood and I fully support our brave and dedicated SPD’s K9 Unit and for Officer Blair and his partner Mr. Warner to receive this acknowledgement and award for their actions is great appreciated.”
Mr. Warner got his unique name after a Warner School 5th grader won an essay contest to name the department’s K9 and chose his school’s name. Officer Blair added the “Mr.” to his K9 partner’s name to add a more approachable and distinguished ring to it.
Fort Hill Brewery donated their space and beverages for Sunday’s event.
“We were pleased to award this team, Mr. Warner and his handler Officer Eric Blair the Animal Hero Award,” said Stacey Price, Director of Development & Marketing for Dakin Humane Society. “It seems fitting to have Mr. Warner’s retirement year be the year they are both honored for this award. Their careers have been centered around serving our community. Honoring a team like this who displays such courage, dedication and selflessness on a daily basis for our community we hope is a testament to our appreciation for their years of service.”