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Hero Down: Lake County Sheriff’s Department K9 Zahr Dies From Acute Illness

Lake County Sheriff's Department K9 Zahr served his department for seven years.

Lake County, IN – Lake County Sheriff’s Department (LCSD) K9 Zahr died on Dec. 4, after suffering an acute medical emergency.

K9 Zahr and his partner of seven years, LCSD Sergeant Bryan Zabrecky, had participated in a routine training session the day prior, according to the Post-Tribune.

The high-energy K9 seemed to be his normal self throughout the morning, albeit slightly more mellow by the afternoon after having blown through all of his training exercises, Sgt. Zabrecky said.

But when the duo headed out to start their night shift hours later, K9 Zahr was noticeably out of breath and struggled to climb a flight of stairs.

Sgt. Zabrecky scooped him up and took him to the Hobart Animal Clinic, where he passed away on Dec. 4, the LCSD said in a press release later that night.

Veterinarians believe he was struck by pericarditis, which occurs when blood seeps into the sac that surrounds a canine’s heart, Sgt. Zabrecky told the Post-Tribune.

When the sergeant went to pick up K9 Zahr’s remains from the veterinarian’s office on Dec. 6, he was soon joined by a number of K9 handlers and their partners from all over the area.

Sgt. Zabrecky was stunned and humbled by the massive show of respect for his fallen partner.

The Hobart Medical Clinic later posted photos of the gathering on its Facebook page.

“We at Hobart Animal Clinic so appreciate the work he and his handler have done for our community,” the medical center said of K9 Zahr.

“K9 Teams, police officers, family and friends, and the staff at HAC gathered today from multiple towns in Northwest Indiana to honor K9 Zahr. What a humbling privilege it was to be able to show our support and appreciation for this working dog/companion, his handler and all the police officers in this community,” the vet’s office said. “The support the law enforcement officers have for each other in our region is so amazingly impressive. Thank you to all who protect us on a daily basis. Rest in Peace K9 Zahr.”

K9 Zahr joined the LCSD on Nov. 9, 2012, and served alongside Sgt. Zabrecky for his entire career, the Post-Tribune reported.

The dual-purpose K9 was stunningly intelligent, and seemed to know exactly when his partner needed him.

“I would always leave his kennel and the window open when I approached a person. If they weren’t complying or he saw me getting physical, he would jump out, and he fought like a champ,” Sgt. Zabrecky explained. “But only if he saw me fighting with someone – if it was just arguing or it was loud – he knew to stay back.”

K9 Zahr also located multiple explosive devices during his career, the LCSD said.

But his favorite activity was getting to play with children, and they loved to make him the center of attention.

“He was all about the pets. He didn’t mind kids pulling on his ears or anything at all,” Sgt. Zabrecky told the Post-Tribune. “In fact, I often said that if someone ever stole my car and he was in it, he’d be like, ‘All right! I have a new dad!’”

“The car is really quiet now,” the sergeant said. “It was a good time serving with him.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and Sgt. Zabrecky in the loss of K9 Zahr.

Holly Matkin - December Fri, 2019


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