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5-Year K-9 Officer, Jax, Dies After Kidney and Liver Failure

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July 11, 2004

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5-Year K-9 Officer, Jax, Dies After Kidney and Liver Failure

Officer Down: Deputy K9 'Jax' - [Greencastle, Indiana]

The Putnam County Sheriff's Department has lost one of their K9's, Jax.

Jax, a four-legged employee with the department since 1999, was put to sleep due to a liver and kidney failure June 28.

The organs' failure was caused by the heavy medications Jax was being given over the last four years for a health condition.

"Jax hadn't felt good for about a week," Deputy Mike Johnson said of his partner.

Jax teamed up with Johnson shortly after he was purchased in 1999 and lived with Johnson in his home until the K-9 died in late June.

The health condition, which was not yet known, was a serious risk to the department.

Johnson said he felt "so right about this K-9" that he purchased Jax with $7,700 of his own money. Shortly after, the Johnson - Jax duo went on to train in a K-9 training facility in Kentucky, not far from where Jax was purchased.

Together they visited almost every elementary school in Putnam County, talking to children about the dangers of using drugs and smoking, and the benefits of being law-abiding citizens.

Jax not only did education programs, but also helped Johnson with school searches at South Putnam, North Putnam, Greencastle and Cloverdale counties. He helped track several suspects on the run, and some lost people.

Together they also spoke to church groups, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, children in the SPARK summer park program, at St. Mary-of-the-Woods, and to children at DePauw's Kids' Best Friend basketball program.

During those education events, the children's eyes seldom left Jax, whether he was running a drill to show off his skills, or just sitting quietly at Johnson's side.

"All the kids knew the dog," Johnson said just days following his partner's death. "They would come up to me and they wouldn't say 'Hi Mike' or 'Hi Deputy', they'd say 'Where's Jax?'"

Jax had a sweet temperament that made him a safe friend for the children who like to give him hugs or pet him.

In fact, the children at Roachdale Elementary liked Jax so much that they wanted to ensure he was safe when out chasing bad guys. They undertook a fund raising program and collected the money to purchase a bullet-proof vest for him.

"He was so social you could have him around the kids and not even think about it," Johnson said. "He was such a good tool for me to use with these kids."

And that is why Johnson, with the support of Sheriff Mark Frisbie, is hoping to raise donations to purchase another K-9 partner.

A new dog costs $10,000 and will be purchased from Northern Michigan Canine, the same company that furnished the sheriff's department other canine.

"Donations will go to purchase a dual purpose dog, to continue what Jax started," Johnson said, so the dog's duties will include the education programs, as well as the criminal interdiction.

If you are interested in donateing to the cause, please contact Douglas Buis at regal5044@aol.com to receive instructions on how to donate and the online donation center.

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