A 39-year-old canine officer with the Kings Mountain Police Department died of COVID-19-related illness, his fellow officers confirmed.
“Please keep the family of K9 Officer Carl Proper and our brothers and sisters of the Kings Mountain Police Department in your thoughts and prayers,” the Mount Holly Police Department posted on Facebook Saturday, a day after the officer’s death. “Officer Proper passed away on the evening of September 17th due to complications of COVID.”
The Oakboro Police Department also posted on Facebook that Proper died of COVID complications.
Proper was married and had two daughters and a son, according to his obituary.
“When he came to my department, he just flourished,” Kings Mountain police Chief Lisa Proctor told The Shelby Star.
Proper and police dog Bronco “hit it off,” the chief told the newspaper. “It was as if they were a match made in heaven.
It was unknown Tuesday if Proper had been vaccinated against the disease.
On Aug. 19, Proper’s wife, Sonya Proper, posted on Facebook: “For all of you who think Covid isn’t real I pray for you to understand it isn’t a joke it can take someone down without discrimination. It don’t care if you don’t believe. That is like saying people are dieing from just pneumonia but Covid is not a joke!”
Carl Proper’s funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday at Woodlawn Funeral Home in Mount Holly. Visitation is 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home.
A GoFundMe fundraiser for his wife and children has raised $4,205 as of Tuesday afternoon.
County in COVID ‘crisis,’ official says
Kings Mountain is in Cleveland County, which is experiencing a delta variant crisis, commissioners Chairman Doug Bridges said at a news conference Monday, WBTV reported.
The county has seen 1,399 new cases in the past two weeks, or about 100 a day, the station reported.
Since the start of the pandemic, Cleveland County has experienced 16,521 COVID-19 cases and 274 COVID-related deaths, state data shows. The county has a population of about 99,519, according to the latest U.S. Census data.
Only 45% of the county was partially vaccinated against the disease and 41% fully vaccinated as of Friday, according to the Cleveland County Health Department.
Fourteen people in the county died of COVID last week and nearly 40 over the past month, according to the Star.