A Pennsylvania veterinarian died Dec. 19, 2011, while working as a part-time police officer.
Dr. John D. Dryer, 46, of Claysville, Pa., owned and operated Chestnut Veterinary Clinic, a solo mixed animal practice in Washington, Pa., for the past 10 years. For the past two years, he also was a police officer for East Washington Borough in Washington County, Pa.
A news release from the Pennsylvania State Police described the events leading to Dr. Dryer's death. At 10:30 p.m. Dec. 18, Dr. Dryer initiated a traffic stop. Another officer, Robert Caldwell, arrived as backup.
Police say Eli Franklin Myers of Webster, Pa., exited his vehicle and engaged the officers in a gunfight. Dr. Dryer was fatally wounded, while Caldwell suffered a nonfatal gunshot wound.
State police obtained a warrant for Myers' arrest. According to local news reports, state police shot and killed Myers at his home at about 9:30 a.m. Dec. 19, after he exited the house carrying a gun.
Dr. Dryer's brother, Dean Dryer, remembers his brother as being smart and funny. Dr. Dryer loved helping animals and people, Dryer said, although his family had not heard half the stories of his generosity until the funeral.
"He gave so much to the community, and yet he never bragged about it," Dryer said, adding, "He did nothing halfheartedly."
Previously, Dr. Dryer had been a police officer with Donegal Township and Midway Borough, both in Washington County. Through the years, he paid for most of his equipment and for extra training with search dogs, Dryer said. Dr. Dryer held certifications in K-9 training and tracking with Bloodhounds.
Dr. Dryer also was an enforcement officer for the Pennsylvania Game Commission. The brothers both were emergency medical technicians with the volunteer fire department for West Middletown Borough, Washington County. Dr. Dryer held certifications in the use of a self-contained breathing apparatus for firefighting and in advanced car extraction.
Dryer described his brother, a 1993 graduate of The Ohio State University, as an outstanding veterinarian.
"He cared about the animals like they were his own," Dryer said. "I actually think he did it more for the animals than he did for the people."
When their father kept the Heinz Hitch, a former team of Percherons, Dr. Dryer provided the veterinary care.
Dr. Dryer was a great dad to his autistic, 17-year-old son, Dryer said, despite a divorce from his son's mother. Anytime Dr. Dryer turned down a request for assistance, Dryer said, he was probably spending time with his son.
Dryer said the community has been supportive following Dr. Dryer's death. Many of Dr. Dryer's clients praised his work as a veterinarian. His family has reopened his clinic in his memory, with a part-time veterinarian to start.
Memorial donations to help support Dr. Dryer's son may be made to the John David Dryer Memorial Fund, Community Bank, 65 W. Chestnut St., Washington, PA 15301.