AMHERST — Amherst police have lost one of their most diligent officers.
K-9 Bandit, a 7-year-old German shepherd whose keen sense of smell and training helped police confiscate 20-plus kilos of cocaine and thousands of dollars in cash, died unexpectedly Saturday morning.
The department’s only canine member, Bandit is believed to have died from a sudden contortion or twisting of the stomach — a condition that occurs in some breeds of dogs.
According to information released by Amherst Police Detective Joseph Kucirek, Bandit recently had surgery to have his spleen removed and was not working at the time of his death. The dogs’ handler, Sgt. Mark Cawthon, was unavailable for comment, but told Kucirek that the surgery may have been a contributing factor to the dog’s death.
“Mark said that may have had something to do with it,” Kucirek said. “It’s a strange situation in which the dog’s stomach apparently turned over. He said the same thing may have occurred with his last dog.”
Preliminary results from an autopsy performed by an area vet indicated the dog’s stomach contorted, which cut off blood flow to vital organs, ultimately leading to Bandit’s death. Information provided by Kucirek said the attending veterinarian described the condition as an acute one in which death could have occurred in approximately an hour.
Bandit was cremated. A memorial service will be planned within the next few weeks with the help of Lorain County Sheriff’s Deputy Bob Perkins, Kucirek said. Perkins lost his longtime police dog, Drago, in the fall of 2009 after seven years of service with the sheriff’s department.