Grove City K-9 officer Max dies during emergency surgery for cancerous growth

ThisWeek Staff

The Grove City Division of Police announced on its Facebook page June 9 that K- officer Max has died.

Max had undergone emergency surgery June 8 after a cancerous growth was discovered and did not survive the procedure, according to the post.

Grove City K-9 officer Max

"Max was an eight year old Belgian Malinois and had served with the Division since July of 2015," the post read. "He was a dual purpose K-9 trained in narcotic detection, criminal apprehension, human tracking, article search, and handler protection. Prior to his official Police Officer status in 2015, Max competed at various levels in French Ring Sport. Max served with the Special Operations Bureau and Patrol with his handler Officer Kitko. Max had been deployed over 1290 times and assisted in over 600 arrests."

Max was introduced officially to the public at the Grove City Council meeting Sept. 21, 2015.

Officer Brian Kitko was his handler. 

Kitko talked about Max and the important role he played for the police department in a 2017 ThisWeek story.

“He’s a highly driven, working-class dog,” Kitko said. “He’s always ready to work. He wants to work. When we bring him out on a call, he’s excited, but he won’t know what he’s going to do until we give him a command.

Grove City Division of Police officer Brian Kitko describes how the division uses Max in its work during a March 7, 2017, community-relations program at the Grove City Public Library.

“He allows us to go much further into an investigation where before we were limited,” Kitko said.

Kitko would also bring Max to public events, including a regular series of visits to the Grove City Library.

"Everyone can relate to a dog," Kitko said. "Children respond to a dog and it helps make them respond more easily and  naturally to me."

Max lived with Kitko and his family.

He was trained in drug detection, criminal apprehension, human tracking, article search and handler protection and served with the Special Operations Bureau and Patrol.

As a tracking dog, Max could track evidence in addition to missing people and at-large suspects. Max also could be deployed in the event of a natural disaster or to locate missing victims.

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