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Hero Down: Grove City Police K9 Max Dies During Surgery

Rove City, OH – Grove City Police Department (GCPD) K9 Max died on June 8 during a cancer-related surgical procedure, according to his department.

The eight-year-old Belgian Malinois was taken in for emergency surgery after a cancerous growth was diagnosed, but he passed away during the operation, the GCPD said in a Facebook post the following day.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Grove City Division of Police K-9 Max,” the police department said.

K9 Max competed at various levels in French Ring Sport prior to joining the GCPD in 2015.

The dual-purpose K9 served alongside his handler, Officer Brian Kitko, the Columbus Messenger reported.

“They were almost inseparable,” GCPD Lieutenant Jason Stern told the paper. “They had a remarkable connection.”

Lt. Stern said that despite K9 Max’s cancer diagnosis, the way he died was very unexpected.

“Most of us are still processing it. It is shocking,” he told the Columbus Messenger. “He was so healthy and had endless energy.”

K9 Max served in the GCPD’s Special Operations and Patrol Bureaus.

He assisted in over 600 arrests, and was deployed nearly 1,300 times during his years of service, the Columbus Messenger reported.

“That is pretty tremendous,” Lt. Stern noted. “That is about 100 arrests a year. That is a lot for anybody.”

K9 Max, who was trained in criminal apprehension, article search, and narcotics detection, “was kind of a celebrity,” he added.

He and Officer Kitko frequently put on presentations at the Grove City Library, participated in parades, and took part in various other community events, the Columbus Messenger reported.

“Max was a serious working dog – he was all business. But he would go out in the community around kids, and he was great,” Lt. Stern said. “That was a well-done component of Brian’s job.”

K9 Max was the department’s first K9 officer since the 1960s, according to the paper.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Grove City Police Department and Officer Kitko in the loss of K9 Max.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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