CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Family and friends are celebrating the life of fallen patrolman and humane officer, Cassie Marie Johnson on her birthday, September 25th. She lost her life on duty protecting the city of Charleston.

Growing up Cassie was taught by her mother Sheryl to love and respect all life, developing her love for animals at a young age, and especially for dogs. Cassie and her family rescued and protected neglected animals and assisted the people of her community.

“Cassie just always has had a love for them. They were like a comfort to her, even if she was getting older and things. She just always had an animal with her,” said Sheryl Johnson, Cassie’s mom.

 “She would pick up a stray and bring them home. It wasn’t anything for Sheryl to come home and there be another pet at the house because Cassie stopped and picked it up, so that led into her becoming a humane officer, her love for animals, and her love for being a police officer,” said Tiffany Bradley, Cassie’s friend.

As a humane officer, she helped many dogs feel loved and find forever homes. Her furry best friend of 14 years, Emma, was the love of her life.

Emma, the one she picked, came up and crawled up on her lap and went to sleep. The rest of them were running around and playing and doing all this,” said Sheryl Johnson.

“She just said, well I guess she picked me,” said Chelsea Johnson, Cassie’s sister.

“And that’s how she got Emma. She brought her home and put her in her bed that night, and she never slept another night without her,” said Sheryl Johnson.

Sadly, Emma passed a few months ago before Cassie, but her family says they know the two are happily reunited now. The dog park, “Emma’s Place” was created in honor of them both.

If I had to know where Cassie’s spirit is, it’s probably around that dog park watching the puppies enjoy a space of their own.

Sheryl Johnson, Cassie’s mom

As a tribute to Cassie’s passion for animals, her family and friend Tiffany, helped to create “Cassie’s Critter Comforts Foundation”. The foundation ensures that Cassie and Emma’s legacies live on in the city she loved, served, and protected. It also raises donations to help low income families provide medical needs to their pets to prevent surrenders to the shelter.

“Her passion was to keep the people safe and to make sure animals of Charleston were safe and fed. Everything that she could possibly do, she would do. If it meant taking money out of her pocket to help another animal, she would,” said Tiffany Bradley.

As a birthday gift to Cassie, the foundation teamed up with the wives of the Charleston Police Department in a t-shirt fundraiser, to raise money for dog adoptions.