Lake County sheriff’s office, community mourn the loss of K9 Dax

  Dax, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office K9, officially retired after 9 years of service during a public ceremony Wednesday. Joe Lewnard/
  Deputy and K9 handler John Forlenza pets Dax, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office K9, who retired after 9 years of service. Joe Lewnard/

Dax, the decorated nationally known crime-fighting police dog, has died just two days after a public celebration of his illustrious career with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Seriously injured in his neck and spine March 3 while apprehending a fleeing suspect, the department veteran went through intensive therapy but was subsequently retired. Over the past few days, Dax was in serious pain and the difficult decision was made to put him to sleep Friday morning.

The 9-year-old German shepherd joined the sheriff’s office in 2015 and tallied an impressive list of accomplishments during his service, made a national television appearance and won several awards.

With his partner, Deputy John Forlenza, he’s found more than 400 missing/endangered people or fleeing felons, seized hundreds of kilos of illegal drugs and millions of dollars of illegal cash, and dozens of firearms discarded by offenders, officials said.

“There is no way to quantify or properly express what Dax’s service has meant to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the Lake County community, his supporters across the nation, and especially me,” Forlenza said previously.

“But I cannot refrain from stating that his service has been exemplary, and most importantly, he has saved countless lives, including my own. I am proud to have been his handler and best friend for the last nine years,” he added.

Dax was considered a hero whose lifesaving contributions won’t be forgotten, Sheriff John D. Idleburg said.

“K9 Dax will always hold a special place in our hearts, and we are incredibly saddened by his passing,” Idleburg said. “K9 Dax will be remembered for the lives he saved, violent offenders he apprehended, and drugs he kept from being distributed in our community. Please keep the Forlenza family in your thoughts and prayers.”

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