Trainers 'heartbroken' after Volusia County K-9 officer dies in line of duty

NEW SMYRNA BEACH, Fla. — Staff at AMK9 Law Enforcement in Volusia County have a heavy heart after learning that one of their former dogs, Forrest, had died Tuesday night in the line of duty.

AMK9 is a company that provides dogs to law enforcement agencies and military bases around the world.

Forrest, 2, was brought to AMK9 before working for the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.

“It's devastating. Your heart drops,” Bill Heiser, vice president of AMK9, said.

Forrest was a little more than a year old when Heiser hand-picked the dog in Germany, and was then trained in Volusia County by the sheriff's office.

Heiser said Forrest stood out when Volusia County's K-9 unit came looking for a dog.

“He was a happy-go-lucky dog with a lot of drive. Intelligent,” said Heiser.

Heiser spent 12 years with Volusia's K-9 unit and said the agency is committed to supporting the unit, but that's not the case everywhere.

Many agencies don't have the budget, and most rely on fundraisers for things, such as K-9 vests that can range between $1,200 and $2,500. Care, food and training is costly, but Heiser said it’s worth it.

“Tracking, apprehension, drug work, bomb work, detecting bombs. It's unbelievable what you can train these dogs to do,” said Heiser.

Heiser said losing a K-9 and the bond they share with fellow officers can leave even the toughest officers heartbroken.

“That dog is loyal to you until his last breath. Literally, his last breath. You should be so honored,” said Heiser.

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