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K9 Kojak – Eastern Cape, South Africa

Died – 8/13/17
Handler – Warrant Officer Etienne Gerber

Farewell K9 Kojak

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, The Herald reported on 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. 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. He dangled 30m below a helicopter, traversed a gold mine, trekked across treacherous mountains, rescued five people and recovered 275 bodies. 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. K9 unit handler Warrant Officer Etienne Gerber, who has been working with Kojak for 8 years, has been looking after the Kojak 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 our family,” he said. Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said Gerber had woken up at about 2am on Sunday (13/08/17) 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.”

Submitted By Jim Cortina

James A. Cortina has been involved with police dogs since 1972 and currently on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Police Work Dog Association Inc. Jim has been appointed as Treasurer since its inception in 1991. Jim is one of the charter members of the C.P.W.D.A. organization. Since 1975 he has been a certified professional dog trainer and received his Master Trainer Certification in 1985. During his career he has provided armed K-9 strike crowd control for security agencies in Connecticut and out of state security companies. In conjunction with other members of the Connecticut Police Work Dog Association Inc. Board of Directors, he helped to draft Connecticut Statute 53-247(e) "Intentional Injury or Killing of Police K-9" which was passed by the Senate in 1993 and also assisted in implementing the prestigious Daniel Wasson Memorial K-9 Award in 1992. In 1993 he helped coordinate the North American Police Work Dog Association Nationals in New London, Connecticut. He was appointed Training Director for the New London County Work Dog Association from 1985-1987. He performed decoy work for Connecticut Police Work Dog Association Inc. in police K-9 demonstrations, trained several local police department canines, and coordinated training workshops for out-of-state police departments. He participated in the United States Police K-9 Association Trials in Croton on Hudson, New York in 1985 as a decoy. He is an avid photographer and received photography awards in 1989, 1990, and 1991 and currently takes photographs for the Connecticut Police Work Dog Association Inc.