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Hero Down: Riverside County Sheriff’s K9 Windy Dies After Toxic Spore Exposure

Riverside County Sheriff's Department K9 Windy died in the line of duty on July 25.

Murrieta, CA – Riverside County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) K9 Windy died in the line of duty on July 25, approximately one month after she ingested toxic fungal spores during a track.

The five-year-old human-tracking bloodhound was working on a tracking call in a desert area of the county when she ingested the spores, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

She contracted Valley Fever as a result, and developed a lung infection and other medical complications during the weeks that followed, Valley News reported.

K9 Windy was retired to the home of her partner, Riverside County Deputy Robert Ochoa, earlier in July, according to the Desert Sun.

The beloved K9 received the “top-notch medical care that she deserved” during the weeks that followed, but her condition continued to deteriorate, the RCSD said in a press release.

“Despite their best efforts, Windy’s illness overcame her medication and her symptoms returned stronger than ever,” the department wrote. “It is with a heavy heart that we announce that K-9 Windy has lost her battle with her illness and passed away today.”

K9 Windy joined the RCSD in May of 2014, when she was just seven weeks old, the Desert Sun reported.

She worked alongside Deputy Ochoa for her entire career.

“Windy served this community for five years in which she trailed countless miles throughout Riverside County in search of missing persons, lost hikers, and fleeing felons,” the sheriff’s office said.

“K-9 Windy was great at her job, and with fifty documented finds and numerous investigative leads located, she had developed a reputation throughout the Inland Empire and surrounding law enforcement agencies as an excellent working dog for locating those who are missing and those who are hiding,” the agency continued. “Her career, like her personality, was nothing short of stellar.”

The department noted that K9 Windy and Deputy Ochoa spent all their time together – both at work and at home.

“This creates a very strong bond between canine handler and dog that cannot be put into words easily,” the RCSD explained. “Every stressful situation her handler entered, Windy went into first. She faced the same dangers her handler did, before he did, to ultimately keep her handler and his partners safe.”

“This bond and understanding of the way Windy thinks and feels makes the loss of a service dog so much more difficult for her handler,” the agency said. “The outpouring of support has been overwhelming, and it was a comfort to our K-9 team and Windy’s handler during this difficult time.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and Deputy Ochoa in the loss of K9 Windy.

Holly Matkin - August Fri, 2019

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