Beloved K9 Dax passes away just days after official retirement ceremony

K9 Dax, an esteemed member of the Lake County Sheriff's Office, has passed away. 

His death was announced Friday afternoon. Just two days earlier, on April 10, the sheriff's office held an official retirement ceremony. 

Ten-year-old Dax retired after sustaining a neck and spine injury on March 3 while pursuing a fleeing suspect, deputies said. The injuries then led to temporary paralysis of his hindquarters.

The K9 was later diagnosed with cervical and thoracolumbar Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) and lumbosacral IVDD exasperated.

Dax went through intensive physical therapy after the injury, but his veterinary team said he wasn't able to return to active duty. 

He joined the force in the spring of 2015 at just 13 months old. 

Alongside his partner, Deputy John Forlenza, Dax helped locate over 400 missing people, apprehended fleeing felons, and assisted in seizing illegal drugs, firearms and vehicles. 

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Following his retirement, Dax spent his remaining days with Forlenza and his family. 

"There is no way to quantify or properly express what Dax’s service has meant to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, the Lake County community, his supporters across the nation, and especially me. But I cannot refrain from stating that his service has been exemplary, and most importantly, he has saved countless lives, including my own.  I am proud to have been his handler and best friend for the last nine years. Dax is a true hero and well deserving of the rest and love that waits for him in his retirement. I’d like to especially thank Dax’s supporters, team of veterinarians, trainers, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, and my family and friends for all their support throughout his career," Forlenza previously said. 

The sheriff's office said it will memorialize Dax and all the accomplishments he made while on the force. 

"K9 Dax will always hold a special place in our hearts, and we are incredibly saddened by his passing.  K9 Dax will be remembered for the lives he saved, violent offenders he apprehended, and drugs he kept from being distributed in our community.  Please keep the Forlenza family in your thoughts and prayers," said Sheriff John Idleburg. 

This is a breaking story and we'll bring more updates.