Columbus Division of Fire K9 passes away unexpectedly

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Columbus Division of Fire is mourning the loss of an arson K9.

K9 Baxter passed way from natural causes on November 27 after collapsing suddenly after retrieving a frisbee, the department said in a release.

Baxter worked with K9 handler Lew Smith and the pair would exercise at Berliner Sports Park before their shifts at Fire Station 3.

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“Baxter died while doing what he loved best, which was playing Frisbee,” Smith said.

Baxter graduated from the Columbus Division of Fire’s accelerant program in June 2017.

The three-year-old black lab from North Carolina was trained by the Columbus Division of Fire K9 program and certified by the State of Ohio 18 months ago.

“It was just so sudden. I was shocked, naturally. But I can’t imagine a happier way to go. He was a rescue dog, not quite a pure breed. My wife says his 18 months with us was surely the happiest days of his life,” said Smith.

Smith will bring back his former partner, K9 Paz out of retirement to resume his duties once he is recertified.

“Whenever I would work with Baxter at home, Paz would watch and try and jump in. He’s a little heavier now, but he’s steady. He knows the game, though he works at a more relaxed pace, unlike a younger dog,” said Smith.

The Division of Fire has two K9s trained in detecting explosives and one dog, Paz, who is trained to detect accelerants at fire scenes.

The search for a new dog is underway, according to the department.