Officer Mike Lafave and K-9 Bak
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Grand Rapids Police are saying goodbye to one of their most loyal members.
One of the department's police dogs died suddenly last week at his handler's home.
"I'm a dog lover, it's as simple as that," says Officer Mike LaFave. Bak was a big part of LaFave's life for eight years. "The dog has so much loyalty and dedication to his job."
Bak had 130 successful tracks of suspects. In 2009, Bak found a criminal hiding in a drain pipe.
"We go around the river and he's tracking to the sewer pipe," LaFave remembers. "Do you believe him? It's the middle of winter and, lo and behold, the guy was in there and they had to use an excavator to get him out."
Bak became a part of the community. A group of school-kids raised money to buy him a badge. They surprised LaFave at work.
"The whole class was here on a field trip and they presented me with a badge the kids had gone and worked for," he says.
Bak loved to work, but he also loved going home to be with his other two canine buddies and the LaFave family.
"He was a big bad police dog, but he was also a big baby at our house," says LaFave.
Bak retired in September and, at last check, was given a clean bill of health. Last week, he got sick.
"He had vomited around the house and I said, 'Something's not right'," remembers LaFave. "His stomach was distended to the size of a basketball."
A tumor on Baks spleen had ruptured. The dog did not make it through the night.
"In a way, it was a blessing," says LaFave. "We didn't have to make a decision to put him down. He did it on his own."
Bak will, no doubt, be missed by the community and his family.
"Everybody loved him," says LaFave.
A memorial will be held this coming Saturday at Noah's Pet Cemetery.