WATERTOWN — A K-9 dog with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office died after choking on a ball during a training exercise.
The sheriff’s office, in a news release, said K-9 Scout died while taking part in a building search training exercise on Thursday with eight other dog and handler pairs. The 6-year-old German Shepherd was paired with Deputy Adam Hallett.
“This was an accident void of human error. The drill was an approved search exercise being conducted by the State Police and that particular ball had been used many times for this and other purposes,” said a news release signed off by Sheriff Colleen M. O’Neill. “We ask our community to keep Adam in your thoughts while he grieves the sad and sudden loss of his partner.”
According to the news release, K-9 dogs are directed to search a particular area of a home or business by focusing on a ball thrown to the area the handler asks a dog to search. The handler then waits for the room to be cleared before moving to the next room.
“Scout retrieved the ball, as he was asked to do,” the news release said. “The ball became lodged behind Scout’s teeth, severely impairing his breathing.”
The news release said that the handlers on site provided K-9 Scout immediate canine first aid, including the performing of the Heimlich maneuver, CPR and mouth-to-nose resuscitation.
K-9 Scout was then taken to Watertown Animal Hospital, “but his airway had been obstructed too long for him to survive.”
The K-9 had been with the department since June 2014 and was donated by Riverside Kennels in Copenhagen.
He was trained for explosive detection, handler protection and tracking at the State Police K-9 school in Cooperstown.