Ala. prison K-9 dies after drug raid

The K-9 fell seriously ill after coming into contact with synthetic marijuana

By Carol Robinson
Alabama Media Group, Birmingham

ELMORE COUNTY, Ala. — An Alabama prison K9 that fell seriously ill after coming into contact with synthetic marijuana during a contraband raid at a state prison has now died.

The Alabama Department of Corrections on Monday announced that the K9 - Jake - died Saturday after developing pneumonia. He was pronounced dead at 3 p.m.

The drug-sniffing dog was part of a team conducting a contraband search late Thursday at Staton Correctional Facility in Elmore County. The raid took place about 9 p.m. when the Alabama Department of Corrections dispatched three emergency response teams to search a housing dorm for contraband, said ADOC spokesman Bob Horton.

During the search, Jake alerted on a powdery substance. Within moments of detecting the substance, the K9 became unresponsive and was immediately transported to the Staton infirmary. Prison officials evacuated the dorm and requested assistance from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Hazardous Materials (HazMat) Unit.

A test by the HazMat team identified the substance as synthetic marijuana. The HazMat team continued search operations without finding additional contraband and cleared the dorm at approximately 4 a.m. on Friday.

Jake was taken from the Staton infirmary to an area veterinary hospital, and then transported to the Auburn University Veterinary Clinic. Jake’s handler, Sgt. Quinton Jones, said his partner was performing his search when he suddenly became ill after finding the substance. Jones said the quick reaction by medical staff saved Jake’s life.

“After alerting on the substance, Jake lost his balance and became unresponsive,” said Jones. “I want to thank members of Staton’s medical staff, Leanne Smith and Juanita Peavy, for saving Jake’s life. Without their immediate response to Jake’s condition, he would not be alive today. They are heroes for saving his life.”

Smith and Peavy performed CPR on Jake in the prison courtyard and inserted an IV, which stabilized his condition. Smith remained with Jake and continued CPR until he arrived at the Auburn University Clinic Thursday night.

Smith and Peavy are both registered nurses on staff with ADOC’s healthcare provider, Wexford Health Sources. Smith joined the medical staff at Staton in January, and Peavy has been with the ADOC since September 2018.

On Friday, Horton said, the Auburn University Veterinary Clinic reported that Jake’s condition had improved. Clinical staff had replaced an oxygen tube with an oxygen mask to facilitate Jake’s breathing and initial reports indicate Jake had a serious allergic reaction to the synthetic marijuana. By Saturday, however, his vitals were abnormal and his condition quickly deteriorated.

On Monday, Gov. Kay Ivey issued a commendation honoring Jake’s service.

“I was saddened to hear that one of the Corrections K9s, Jake, lost his life over the weekend. This K9 died in service to public safety and in service to the state,” Ivey said in a prepared statement. “Jake is an example of the goodness, the loyalty and service that our four-legged friends provide. We certainly lost a loyal companion.”

Jake had been Jones’ partner since joining the ADOC in June 2014. Jones said he had an impeccable record in counter-drug operations.

“This is a difficult time for our ADOC family and especially for Sgt. Jones and those assigned to our K9 Bureau who worked with Jake on a daily basis,” said Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn. “I extend our deepest condolences for the loss of this noble K9 who honorably served the State of Alabama and for ultimately giving his life while protecting the public.”

Dunn added that Jake probably saved the lives of others by detecting the contraband during the search. “With Jake’s training and ability to find the narcotic, he saved other lives by giving his own in the line-of-duty,’’ Dunn said. “Jake’s heroism and ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten.” said Dunn.

Under a reorganization initiative in early 2019, the ADOC realigned the K9 bureau under the Department’s Investigations and Intelligence Division for counter-drug operations.

“Jake was one of our best narcotics detection K9s,” said I&I Director Arnaldo Mercado. I ask that we keep Sgt. Jones and the ADOC family in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time.”

Mercado said his division is conducting a criminal investigation and anyone found to be responsible in the K9’s death will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. A burial service for Jake will be held later this week with full honors.

©2019 Alabama Media Group, Birmingham

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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