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HPD dog dies during training

May. 01, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The Huntington Police Department lost one of its most accomplished police dogs this week, according to a news release issued Tuesday afternoon.

Rio was a Belgian Malinois-German shepherd mix, who entered into service Sept. 18, 2009, with a dual purpose of tracking and narcotics detection.

Rio collapsed Monday afternoon during a training exercise. He became unresponsive, and attempts to revive him proved unsuccessful.

Huntington Police Chief Skip Holbrook described Rio as "loyal and faithful" to both the department and the citizens of Huntington.

"K-9 Rio not only helped keep our officers safe, but was equally instrumental in our community drug eradication efforts," Holbrook said in the release.

Rio had been assigned to Patrolman Ronnie Lusk. The dog completed 50 suspect tracks, which led to 17 apprehensions, as well as drug seizures of 4.28 pounds of marijuana, 3.11 pounds of cocaine, 0.8 pounds of heroin and 1,884 opiate pills, according to the release.

Holbrook's release states the agency intends to immediately begin the process of replacing Rio. The death leaves the department with six police dogs.

Earlier this year, Huntington Police celebrated the addition of its seventh dog, representing its largest canine roster in the agency's history, which enabled the department to staff a police dog and its handler around the clock, expediting response time and helping the city seize drugs and track those who need to be found.

Follow Curtis Johnson via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD and http://facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD.

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