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Sheriff’s Office Mourns Loss Of Retired K-9

K-9 Drago was put to rest this week due to age and complications from an injury. Submitted photo

Members of the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, along with local police departments, are mourning the loss of one of its former K-9s.

The department said K-9 Drago was put to rest this week due to his age and complications arising from a previous injury. The German shepherd was partnered with Chautauqua County sheriff’s deputy Jason Beichner from 2011 to 2018 before retiring.

“K-9 Drago performed well throughout his career, with his remarkable tracking abilities leading to the location of both criminal suspects and vulnerable innocents alike,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Drago had been utilized as an explosive detection animal in addition to human tracking.

The dog suffered a broken leg during a training exercise in May 2017 and required surgery. The surgery, according to Beichner in a February 2018 story in The Post-Journal, did not go as planned and resulted in an infection. A second surgery took place at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in an attempt to clean the infection and repair damage from the previous procedure.

The Sheriff’s Office had hoped the second surgery would repair most of the damage and allow Drago to return to service. However, it later became clear that Drago’s left front leg had to be amputated.

The procedure took place at Russell Veterinary Hospital and was deemed successful.

“Drago continued to serve as an ambassador of good will during K-9 demonstrations,” the department said. “K-9 Drago was always a favorite with both young and old that attended the events.

“K-9 Drago will surely be missed and will always be remembered for his commitment and sacrifice for the citizens of Chautauqua County.”

Beichner remembered Drago in a post widely shared on social media. It read, in part, “I knew this day would come, most of us live through it, there’s literally books and movies written about it, but when the day comes — it still hurts the same. After an exceptional life, a life of service that allowed others to live because of his actions, my partner, the son before my son, passed away today.”

Of picking Drago as a partner in 2011, he said, “They had 12 dogs ready for us to choose from. It only took one. The minute he was brought out I felt the connection. He would be Drago, a name given by my then 7-year-old brother, Collin Beichner. Training started shortly after. I cannot begin to estimate the amount of hours spent together. This was before having my children, so life revolved around training and being together.”

Despite losing a leg, Beichner said Drago took off.

“I could not believe how well he did,” he wrote. “He went back to work-limited, but working, for another couple years. He retired on a high note, or maybe I just see it that way.

“Our last detail together was to conduct an explosives sweep at the Bills stadium. This sweep was a bit different than most. We were assigned to sweep a locker room prior to a Beyonce concert. As we walked in I immediately noticed a distinct difference in his behavior. No, there wasn’t a bomb in the room, but there were 20-plus background singers and dancers. Many of which were very happy to see a handsome three-legged shepherd walk in.”

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