Eli, a Gwinnett County police dog, died Thursday after tracking a suspect in Grayson, authorities said. Heat is believed to be a factor in the dog's death.
Photo: Gwinnett County Police Department
Photo: Gwinnett County Police Department

Gwinnett police dog dies after chasing suspect in 90-degree heat

A Gwinnett County police K-9 died Thursday after pursuing a suspect in 90-degree heat, authorities said.

Eli, a 9-year-old police dog, had tracked a suspect in Grayson for about 30 minutes when he began to show signs of distress believed to be related to the heat, Gwinnett police said in a news release.

Eli and his handler, Officer Matthew Bonanno, were assisting Snellville police in a pursuit after a suspect fled from officers near North Crestview Drive and Grayson Parkway, police said.

MORE: Gwinnett police mourn two K-9 officer deaths in one week

After showing signs of distress, the dog was removed from the chase, according to police. As Eli and officers walked back to their patrol vehicles, the dog fell to the ground and began to act abnormally, police said. 

In an effort to cool him down, officers covered Eli’s body with water. He was taken to a nearby veterinarian for treatment when he stopped breathing. Vets performed CPR for about 30 minutes before he was pronounced dead just before 5 p.m.

“We mourn the loss of this courageous K-9 and will provide more details at a later time,” Gwinnett police said, calling the situation tragic. “Please keep Officer Bonnano and his family in your thoughts.”

Eli had been with the department for eight years. His body was taken to the University of Georgia, where a necropsy is being conducted to determine a cause of death, Gwinnett police said Friday.

Snellville police said the pursuit began when a woman called 911 to report that her ex-boyfriend was following her in his car. At one point, the man reportedly struck the woman from behind in traffic, authorities said. The altercation began on U.S. 78 in DeKalb County before continuing into Gwinnett, police said.

Snellville officers pursued the man into a neighborhood when he abandoned his vehicle and ran away, prompting officers to call for a K-9.

The man, whose name was not released, has still not been found. 

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