Marion County sheriff’s deputy mourns death of K-9 partner

Local

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Marion County Sheriff’s Office is mourning the death of a 5-year veteran: A police dog named Sampson.

Sampson would have turned 10 years old in December. For the past six years, the back seat of a Marion County sheriff deputy cruiser was his office.

Sgt. Jeff McHenry and Sampson were a team. Like many police dogs and their human partners, they were family. And just like family, on the day Sampson was injured, he and McHenry had been running errands.  

“He hopped out like he normally does and when he did, he just fell to the ground, and at his age he pulls muscles a lot,” said McHenry.

The next morning, Sampson just wasn’t the same. McHenry took his partner to the veterinarian, and the vet found a broken bone. The clinic also ran some tests to make sure Sampson was in good shape. Those tests indicated he was.

“Wednesday, they called and said, ‘Hey, everything is great. We are going to bring him into surgery probably about noon,’” McHenry said.

At 2 in the afternoon, McHenry called the vet for a progress report.

“They said, ‘Hey, he is great, breathing fine, heartbeat is fine, and about 2:15, they called back and said he had quit breathing,” said McHenry.

Just like that, McHenry lost his trusted and dependable partner.

Sampson was close to retirement, with maybe a year or two of active duty left before he could sit in the backyard pool as much as he wanted.

McHenry has been a K-9 officer for almost three decades. He retired from IMPD’s K-9 division and started the very next day at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office in the K-9 division when it was still new.

Over the past several years, McHenry and Sampson served warrants together, which is dangerous work. McHenry has lost a few partners in the past, but this one cuts a little deeper.

Taxpayer dollars are not used to purchase police dogs for the sheriff’s office and instead are typically funded by private groups and donations. The office on Friday had not yet announced if a replacement would be coming.

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