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Mother of deceased McCandless cop honors her with donation to help care for police dog

August 6, 2018
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McCandless police Sgt. Bryan Madden is the handler for Joy, the first dog for the police department’s newly formed K9 unit.

The mother of a McCandless police officer who died in 2013 honored her daughter by making a donation to help care for the town’s recently acquired police dog.

Sabrina Devereaux of Butler served as a McCandless officer for 11 years before dying unexpectedly of natural causes in December 2013 at age 35. Before joining the McCandless department, Devereaux worked as a part-time officer in Vandergrift and Freeport.

“Please use this donation as a living tribute to my much loved and terribly missed daughter,” wrote Devereaux’s mother, Melanie Burnheimer, in a July 26 letter to police McCandless police Chief David DiSanti.

“I know Sabrina would want my gift honoring her 40th birthday to be sent for the care and ongoing service of the McCandless police K9 program, bringing together two passions that were always very close to her heart -- her love for her work as a police officer and her love of dogs,” Burnheimer said.

Burnheimer said the addition of a K9 unit to the town’s police department would have delighted her daughter.

“Another of her professional dreams came true last November when Joy actively began his service with McCandless police as your newest team member and fellow officer,” she said.

A copy of the letter DiSanti posted on social media on Monday drew scores of condolences and remembrances of Devereaux from coworkers and residents.

“Sabrina was more than a coworker and a fellow officer,” said Sgt. Bryan Madden. “She was a very dear friend whom I miss terribly. I am honored to be Joy’s handler and carry out her professional dream. I know she is smiling down upon us and watching over us every day. Happy birthday Sabrina and rest in peace my friend.”

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