Eastern Cape veteran search-and-rescue dog Kojak was put down this morning after his star career was cut short due to a brain tumor earlier this year.
In May, German Shepherd Kojak, who was forced to take retirement after an x-ray revealed that he had a 3cm brain tumour.
During his career, Kojak completed 665 search-and-rescue operations across the Eastern Cape and even outside South Africa.
He dangled 30m below a helicopter, traversed a gold mine, trekked across treacherous mountains, rescued five people and recovered 275 bodies.
Kojak’s career also included finding missing hikers wandering around mountain ranges, locating hard-to-reach aircraft crash sites, climbing into gorges and finding missing people who had drowned in rivers or dams.
K9 unit handler Warrant Officer Etienne Gerber, who has been working with Kojak for 8 years, has been looking after the shepard since he was removed from police duty earlier this year.
A distraught Gerber said that he and his family were devastated by the death. “It is like losing a child. There are just no words that one can say. We are all shattered and have lost a member of over family,” he said.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said that the Gerber had woken up at about 2am when he heard a commotion. “He noticed Kojak lying half inside his kennel. Seeing that something was wrong with Kojak, Gerber stayed with him. During the course of the early morning, Kojak lost consciousness and was rushed to the Walmer Vet,” she said. “There was unfortunately nothing that could be done to save him and he was put to sleep.”
In some operations, Kojak has dangled 30m underneath a helicopter while being airlifted to some of the province’s most dangerous and treacherous mountain ranges. Other operations included the search for missing school teacher Jayde Panayiotou, whose husband, Christopher, is standing trial for her murder.
One of the team’s most daring rescues involved a 2km climb down a mine shaft at the Bulyanhulu Gold Mine, situated 55km south of Lake Victoria in Tanzania, in 2013.
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