Winnipeg police confirmed Thursday one of their good boys has died.
Banner, who was a furry member of the K-9 unit, died Wednesday at Bridgwater Veterinary Services.
Winnipegger Cassie Maeren posted on social media that she witnessed Banner and his handler heading into the vet Wednesday.
“Fast forward an hour or so and tons of other police cars show up at the vet and are parked all around the building,” she said. “A bunch of officers get out of their cars and are standing at the door to meet the handler who is walking out with a large box.
“The handler loads the box into the back of the K-9 unit vehicle and everyone appears to be crying and hugging.”
The officers then got back into their cruisers, she said, then all the units turned on their lights and slowly drove away.
“It was a absolutely beautiful send off for the police K-9 and although it was devastating to see this it made me so happy to see the respect and honour that was given to that dog by his handler and other police officers,” she said.
Banner was featured in the Winnipeg Police Services 2018 Calendar.
WPS spokesperson Const. Jay Murray posted on a Reddit thread that Banner’s death was sudden and a result of a medical issue, which was confirmed on Thursday as an aggressive form of cancer that caused him to deteriorate rapidly.
“Banner and his handler were well respected and very successful on the streets,” he wrote. “It was always great to see them. Their work ethic was second to none, and they volunteered so much of their time.”
Police said Banner had more than 200 tracking arrests on his resume, and was involved in some high-profile cases during his time on the job, including the arrest of a man convicted of murdering a Winnipeg Transit driver.
“It was a great ride that ended way too soon,” said Const. Justin Cassavant, Banner’s handler.
“We wore our hearts on our sleeves and left it all out on the streets.”
The WPS is one of the few police services in Canada that has its own in-house breeding program, and currently has 10 K-9 teams as part of the Special Operations Unit. The dogs are trained to help take down fleeing suspects and some are trained for other jobs including sniffing out illegal drugs, explosives and more.
The WPS uses Belgian Malinois dogs, with a sprinkling of German Shepherds.