Drug detection dog’s death still a mystery

Canine handler Deputy Victor Green, is shown with Rex, the county's drug sniffing dog last July. Rex died unexpectedly recently. Rich Cooley/Daily file

The cause of death for Rex, the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office’s drug detection dog, remains undetermined after the agency Tuesday released the results of an autopsy conducted by the state veterinarian.

The Sheriff’s Office stated in a new release that the veterinarian’s report shows that Rex suffered from myocardial degeneration, more commonly known as an enlarged heart, and lung congestion, but neither condition was identified as a cause of death.

The news release also stated that the state veterinarian did not see any lesions on the dog associated with a heat-related illness.

“It’s still undetermined, and we’re waiting on the toxicology results,” Maj. Scott Proctor said of the cause of Rex’s death.

The 4 1/2-year-old male Belgian Malinois died on May 4 in a K-9 equipped Sheriff’s Office vehicle. His handler, Deputy Victor Green, discovered the dog’s lifeless body in the vehicle.

A Sheriff’s Office investigation turned up no signs of external injury or unusual activity around Rex.

Rex, who had been re-certified as a drug detection dog earlier on May 4, had shown no signs of illness when Green checked on him 30 or 40 minutes before the his death. Sheriff’s Office officials described Rex as in excellent health and ready to work up until the time he died.

Rex started his service with the Sheriff’s Office in July after several weeks of training. He had previously served with the U.S. military in Afghanistan. The Sheriff’s Office acquired him from a U.S. government vendor.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com