STEPHENS COUNTY, OK (KSWO) -Investigators are looking into the death of a police dog in Duncan, who died while in the care of his handler, a Stephens County Deputy.
The K9, named Bak, died August 5 from what appears to be heat exhaustion, but the specifics of how it happened have not been released. Investigators say right now they're still gathering information, but multiple department policies were violated. Sheriff Wayne McKinney of Stephens County says Deputy Matthew Peck was not on duty at the time and was terminated immediately. He had worked for the Stephens County Sheriff's Department for about 6 years and had been Bak's handler for four years. Bak first joined the department when he was just two years old, and he was close to retiring as he was getting too old to continue to do police work and would have gone into the care of his handler permanently.
"We were shocked and we're saddened. This is a loss of one of our deputies, or K9 deputies.You know, I don't know what else to say," said Sheriff McKinney.
Mans best friend is how Sheriff Wayne McKinney describes Bak, their fallen K9. He says through the sweat, tears and successful cases solved, the officers and the K9's bond becomes unlike any other.
"A tremendous amount of work goes into the dogs, and not only with their dogs, but with their handlers. Those two become partners," said Sheriff McKinney.
A partner you never leave behind is what McKinney says has always been a priority.
"The handler has the utmost responsibility to make sure that that dog is well taken care of," said Sheriff McKinney.
A trained police dog is also very expensive. They can run anywhere between $6,000 to $12,000 dollars. McKinney says Bak was an excellent dual purpose dog for detection and narcotics. Although they still have three K9's with the department, he says losing one is like losing a fellow officer and friend.
"They become a part of your family and even though these are tools to law enforcement, they are still living animals. You can't help but to bond with them," said Sheriff McKinney.
Sheriff McKinney says Bak was great around children, but was also able to be aggressive when they needed him to be. He says Bak and all the other K-9's are extremely important to their department and the citizens of Stephens County.
"They have done a tremendous job since we started this program several years ago and we're going to continue it. We will replace Bak and remember him, but we'll continue," said Sheriff McKinney.