ELMORE COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - It was believed that a K9 officer that became ill after a contraband search at an Alabama prison was on his way to recovering, but Monday the Alabama Department of Corrections confirmed “Jake” has since died.
Jake and his handler, Sgt. Quinton Jones, were conducting a drug search Thursday at Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore County when the dog suddenly became ill after finding a substance.
“After alerting on the substance, Jake lost his balance and became unresponsive,” Jones stated.
ADOC said as soon as Jake became ill, prison officials evacuated the dorm and requested assistance from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Unit. Registered nurses on staff with ADOC’s healthcare provider, Wexford Health Sources, Leanne Smith and Juanita Peavy, stabilized the K9’s condition by performing CPR and applying an IV in the prison courtyard.
Jake was taken to an area veterinary hospital, then transferred to Auburn University Veterinary Clinic for treatment. Sgt. Smith remained with him and continued CPR until he arrived to the Auburn clinic Thursday night.
Jake’s condition improved but on Saturday he began to develop complications, ADOC said. Clinical staff said he developed pneumonia and his vital signs were abnormal. The clinic confirmed Jake’s death to ADOC officials around 3 p.m. on Saturday.
A criminal investigation into the K9 officer’s death is ongoing. The substance Jake found was initially determined to be synthetic marijuana but more testing of the narcotic is pending, according to ADOC.
Officials said anyone found to be responsible in the K9’s death will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Jake’s death prompted reaction from Gov. Kay Ivey, who praised the K9 and issued a commendation honoring his service on Monday.
“I was saddened to hear that one of the Corrections K9s, Jake, lost his life over the weekend," Ivey said. "This K9 died in service to public safety and in service to the state. Jake is an example of the goodness, the loyalty and service that our four-legged friends provide. We certainly lost a loyal companion.”
ADOC says Jake and Sgt. Jones had been partners since the dog joined Corrections in 2014. Jones said Jake was a loyal member of the Alabama Department of Corrections K9 Bureau and had an impeccable record in counter-drug operations.
“This is a difficult time for our ADOC family and especially for Sgt. Jones and those assigned to our K9 Bureau who worked with Jake on a daily basis,” said Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn. “I extend our deepest condolences for the loss of this noble K9 who honorably served the State of Alabama and for ultimately giving his life while protecting the public.”
Dunn added that Jake probably saved the lives of others by detecting the contraband during the search.
“With Jake’s training and ability to find the narcotic, he saved other lives by giving his own in the line-of-duty. Jake’s heroism and ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten,” said Dunn.
A burial service for Jake will be held later this week with full honors.