Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25, was originally from Manatí, Puerto Rico, The New York Times reported, but had moved to Orlando and worked at Speedway. He was also a student in health care management.
“He was a dedicated man, with great dreams of helping people in need, and the desire of becoming a health care professional,” his counselor Maricelly Alomar said. “He carried a positive and contagious attitude towards life.”
“He was the light and the life of all the family gatherings,” his cousin Irma Silva-Lauer said.
According to Gladys Roman Rosario, who posted the above photo on Facebook, he was her former handler and is pictured handling a dog named Malachi. “This was a tragedy that affected us ALL,” Rosario wrote on Facebook.
The fancy showed their condolences and paid tribute to Menendez on social media:
“Saint Bernard people: We lost one of our own yesterday!!” said Jose Hernandez-Gil.
“Rest in Peace to one of our own in the dog show community, a victim of the Pulse shooting in Orlando,” wrote former AKC judge Jason Hoke. “This affects everyone. Dance on my friend, dance forever.”
The Puyallup Valley Dog Fanciers posted: “[We] would like to extend our condolences to a fallen community member, hold your loved ones and dogs tight, tell those around you how much you appreciate them and stand strong! Our thoughts are with Gilberto Ramon Silva Mendez’s friends and family.”
The night of the shooting, Menendez was at Pulse with his best friend, Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22, known to friends as “Ommy.” Gonzalez-Cruz was also killed, along with 48 additional victims.
The American Kennel Club extends its condolences to all those affected by this tragedy.
Earlier this week, comfort dogs from around the country traveled to Orlando to help support friends and family of victims. Read about that here.