Hall County, GA – Hall County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) K9 Gus died on Tuesday, after he was potentially exposed to toxic algae while swimming in a pond.
The University of Georgia will conduct a necropsy to determine K9 Gus’ exact cause of death, WGCL reported.
The eight-year-old bloodhound was healthy and hard at work in the hours leading up to his death, according to WSB.
K9 Gus and his human partner, Hall County Deputy Jeremy Prickett, were searching for a fleeing suspect during the early morning hours of Aug. 11, the deputy told The Gainesville Times.
“Gus tracked right through the apartment complex and down into the woods,” Deputy Prickett recalled. “We hit a retention pond, so he did jump in the water and circle the water around the edge.”
After the suspect was apprehended, the duo headed out on another call and everything seemed fine, he said.
But K9 Gus’ health took a rapid and inexplicable downward turn on Tuesday.
“He couldn’t even pick up his head,” HCSO Capitan Brad Rounds told The Gainesville Times.
Deputy Prickett rushed his partner to the Murrayville Veterinary Clinic, but K9 Gus passed away at approximately 4 p.m.
Blue-green algae can produce a toxin that can kill liver cells and cause neurological damage, veterinarian Dr. Sherry Weaver told WSB.
The HCSO expects to have the necropsy results back in the next several days.
Deputy Prickett said that the abrupt loss of the beloved K9 has been devastating for his entire family, The Gainesville Times reported.
“It broke my kids’ hearts,” Deputy Prickett told The Gainesville Times. “My oldest daughter, she couldn’t go to school today. I dropped her off and had to turn around and pick her back up.”
K9 Gus was like a brother to him, he said.
Deputy Prickett that K9 Gus was a “legend” in the law enforcement community, and that his skills helped to solve cases throughout Northeast Georgia.
“If someone ran on us in the woods and we let Gus out and he got the scent, let me tell you something: The only way you’re going to get away from him was if you got picked up by another vehicle or something,” Capt. Rounds agreed. “He was spot-on.”
The entire HCSO is in mourning, Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch said.
“Gus and all of the dogs at the Hall County Sheriff’s Office serve the community admirably, but they’re so much more than that,” Sheriff Couch told The Gainesville Times. “They’re partners with their handlers, loved companions at home and friends of the public at outreach events. Gus was all of these things.”
“He’s apprehended countless suspects over the years, and was an amazing dog,” the sheriff continued. “Everyone in the department will miss him, but for his handler, Deputy Prickett, and the Prickett family, the loss will be greater.”
The HCSO held a memorial service for K9 Gus on Wednesday, according to WSB.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Prickett in the loss of K9 Gus.