K-9 back on duty post-amputation

Submitted photo Deputy Jason Beichner of the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office is pictured with K-9 Drago after the pair was recognized by the Jamestown Police Department Kendall Club. Drago recently had his front left leg amputated due to an infection.

A K-9 with the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office whose front left leg was recently amputated after suffering a serious break and infection is expected to return to limited duty.

K-9 Drago has been with the Sheriff’s Office since March 2011 and used as an explosive detection animal in addition to human tracking. However, according to deputy Jason Beichner, Drago broke his leg during a training exercise and required surgery.

The surgery did not go as planned and later resulted in an infection. A second surgery took place at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in an attempt to clean the infection and repair damage from the previous procedure.

The Sheriff’s Office had hoped the second surgery would repair most of the damage. However, it later became clear that Drago’s front left leg had to be amputated.

The procedure took place at Russell Veterinary Hospital, and since then, the K-9 has been recovering.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen,” Beichner said. “It was such a battle. Since (the amputation) he’s taken off in such a positive way.”

In fact, Beichner said Drago has recovered so well the decision was made to keep the German Shepherd on duty, albeit in a much smaller role. Beichner said the K-9’s energy has returned to the point that he can be used for explosive detection as in the past. Drago will not be used in everyday patrols or for tracking missing or wanted persons as other dogs with the Sheriff’s Office.

“He gets around great. He’s doing fantastic,” Beichner said. “When I leave for work all he wants to do is come with me. It’s hard leaving knowing he wants to go.”

K-9s typically live with their handlers while not on duty.

Beichner and Drago were recently recognized by the Jamestown Police Department’s Kendall Club. The pair was presented with a plaque for service to the community and assistance to Jamestown police.

“Deputy Beichner and K-9 Drago have proven to be a valuable resource whenever they are called upon to assist the Jamestown Police Department, and we are pleased to recognize them for their efforts,” said Lt. Tim Jackson, Kendall Club vice president. “Deputy Beichner continues to routinely train with our K-9 officer, Erik Kraft, and the two of them make up an essential part of the K9 community in Chautauqua County.”

Beichner is also the handler for K-9 Drake, who recently completed training and is on patrol.