UPDATE: Police K-9 died from heart failure, according to lab report

Gus, an eight-year-old bloodhound, died Aug. 13 while on duty with the Hall County Sheriff's Office.
Caption
Gus, an eight-year-old bloodhound, died Aug. 13 while on duty with the Hall County Sheriff's Office.

Credit: Hall County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Hall County Sheriff's Office

A Hall County Sheriff’s Office K-9 that passed away earlier this month was not infected with a toxic form of blue-green algae that’s suspected to be behind the sudden deaths of other dogs around the country, the agency said Friday.

The sheriff’s office said it received information last week from the University of Georgia that Gus, its eight-year-old bloodhound, did not die from the poisonous algae. Sheriff’s office spokesman Derreck Booth said Tuesday that Gus’s death is “consistent with a left-sided heart failure.”

“The development of the issue would have been gradual and likely not obvious until Gus could no longer compensate for it, according to the report,” Booth said. “There was no evidence of any toxicity or tumors.”


Gus was working with his handler, deputy Jeremy Prickett, Tuesday, Aug. 13 when he collapsed and "couldn't hold his head up," the sheriff's office said on its Facebook page. Just a couple of days earlier, the sheriff's office said Gus was tracking down a suspect when he cooled off in a local pond. He continued his mission until he located the suspect.

He was rushed to the Murrayville Veterinary Clinic for treatment. After receiving fluids through an IV, Gus’s condition improved, but he took a turn for the worse and did not recover. The sheriff’s office held a funeral service Aug. 15 for Gus, who was slated to retire later in the year.

Caption
Gus and his handler, Jeremy Pritchett.

Credit: Hall County Sheriff's Office

Gus and his handler, Jeremy Pritchett.
Caption
Gus and his handler, Jeremy Pritchett.

Credit: Hall County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Hall County Sheriff's Office

“Gus and all of the dogs at the Hall County Sheriff’s Office serve the community admirably, but they’re so much more than that,” Sheriff Gerald Couch said. “They’re partners with their handlers, loved companions at home and friends of the public at outreach events. Gus was all of these things. He’s apprehended countless suspects over the years and was an amazing dog. Everyone in the department will miss him, but for his handler, Deputy Prickett, and the Prickett family, the loss will be greater.”


RELATEDDog's death points to possible toxic algae bloom in Allatoona Lake


Reports of dogs dying after swimming in water suspected to be breeding grounds for toxic algae has made headlines in recent weeks. One of these incidents include Cobb County residents Morgan and Patrick Fleming who said their dog died earlier this month after swimming in a north Georgia lake.

The Flemings said their border collie, Arya, died just hours after enjoying the water in a cove in Allatoona Lake near Red Top Mountain Road in Bartow County. They rushed their dog to a pet hospital where she never recovered.

After the Flemings shared their tragedy in a public Facebook post, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reached out to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to test the area of the lake for the algae. The EPD said last week that the results show the level of toxic blue-green algae growing in the lake was within the “safe range.”

However, EPD spokesman Kevin Chambers said the department recommends that “people and pets avoid going into lakes or ponds that appear bright green or the color of pea soup.”


SEE ALSOToxic algae levels in Allatoona Lake are within 'safe range'


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cyanobacteria, as the blue-green algae is also known, is a naturally occurring microscopic bacteria that grows in fresh bodies of water such as lakes and ponds. It uses sunlight to make its own food and can form blooms that spread across the water's surface.

The algae can be deadly to dogs who swallow it or lick it off their coats. In the past two weeks, there have been news reports of 4 dogs who died — three in North Carolina and one in Texas — as a result of swimming in water with the bacteria. It can also cause health symptoms in humans who come into contact with it, including skin rashes, gastrointestinal and respiratory problems.

The same algae is also showing up in Lake Olmstead in Augusta. You can learn more about algae blooms by visiting the EPD's website.


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