Heat is suspected of leading to the death of a beloved police K9 in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Temperatures soared into the 90s on the day that Eli, a Belgian malinois, was utilized to help track a suspect, reports WSBTV News.
Shortly after the search was called off, Eli collapsed and died. Gwinnett police spokeswoman Cpl. Michele Pihera told the news agency, “He loved coming to work, he had that drive, and every time Officer Banano was ready to go to work, he was excited to go to work.”
Eli had been working with the Gwinnett County Police Department for eight years – though he was a working dog, he was family to his handler. Pihera explained, “He was a police dog at work but he could be a family dog at home.”
On May 23, the Gwinnett County Police Department notified Facebook followers about the K9’s death:
K-9 Eli became distressed today while tracking a suspect. He was rushed to a vet but unfortunately passed away. Please keep GCPD & his handler Officer Bonanno in your thoughts as we mourn the sudden loss of this brave K-9.
On the same day, the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office expressed sadness over the dog’s death:
We are saddened at today’s news that Gwinnett County Police K-9 Eli unexpectedly passed away as he tracked a suspect. Our hearts are heavy for his partner, Officer Bonanno and our whole GCPD family. Their loss is great. K-9 Eli served our community for eight years.
Law enforcement K-9s play a critical role in officer safety and the bond between these magnificent animals and their handlers is truly remarkable. Rest in peace, K-9 Eli. Gwinnett County thanks you for your loyal service.
Rest easy K9 Eli.