UPDATE: VSP K-9 Duke dies after experiencing heat exhaustion while tracking Shenandoah County hit-and-run suspect

Virginia News

Authorities say Virginia State Police K-9 Duke is recovering from heat exhaustion after a tracking operation in Shenandoah County on Saturday, Aug. 28. (Photos: Courtesy Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit)

UPDATE 3:55 p.m. (8/31/21): Virginia State Police shared additional information about K-9 Duke, who died on Monday due to complications from heat exhaustion after tracking down a hit-and-run suspect in Shenandoah County over the weekend.

Shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 28, police say Senior Trooper J.R. Lewis and Duke responded to a request for assistance with tracking the suspect involved in a crash at mile marker 187 on I-81.

“The tracking and search efforts required of the canine team were extensive and demanding as temperatures reached into the 90s with extreme humidity,” Virginia State Police wrote on Facebook. “As soon as Duke began showing symptoms of heat exhaustion, Senior Trooper Lewis returned him to their patrol vehicle to help cool and hydrate Duke.”

Duke was brought to an emergency veterinary clinic in the region to undergo treatment, but authorities say the damage to his organs was too severe and he passed away with Lewis at his side on Monday, Aug. 30.

“Duke joined the Department in 2016 at 8 months old,” Virginia State Police said. “The German shepherd was a beloved member of the Culpeper Division Area 12/Warrenton Office and was greatly respected for his support of and service to the Culpeper Division Tactical Team and entire Culpeper Division.”

According to Virginia State Police, the department’s last K-9 line-of-duty-death was Vader, who was shot and killed after a pursuit in Sussex County on Aug. 1, 2018.

You can watch a video of K-9 Duke’s Final Ride — escorted by K-9 teams from Fauquier County, Culpeper County, Manassas City, Manassas Park , Fairfax County, Prince William County, and Virginia State Police — by following this link.


UPDATE 11:20 p.m.: The Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit confirmed that Virginia State Police K-9 Duke died on Monday after being hospitalized for heat exhaustion over the weekend.

Duke was taken to a vet on Saturday, Aug. 28 after showing signs of a heat-related illness while he and his handler were tracking down individuals who fled the scene of a hit-and-run crash in Shenandoah County.

“We are saddened to report that, despite his handler’s quick action and the efforts of the emergency vet staff, K-9 Duke was not able to recover from his illness,” the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit wrote on Facebook on Monday, Aug. 30. “K-9 Duke crossed the rainbow bridge tonight, with Trooper Lewis and his family by his side. He received a hero’s escort for his final ride, escorted by K-9 Teams from nearby jurisdictions and fellow VSP K-9 Teams from all over the state. Rest easy, Duke. We have the watch from here.


(WFXR) — Both law enforcement officers and law enforcement canines around the Commonwealth are keeping a fellow K-9 in their thoughts and prayers after he was brought to the emergency vet for heat exhaustion over the weekend.

According to the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, Virginia State Trooper Lewis and K-9 Duke were tracking down people in Shenandoah County who fled the scene of a hit-and-run crash on Saturday, Aug. 28.

However, because of the heat and humidity, authorities say Duke got overheated and was admitted to the emergency vet in serious condition.

Duke received fluids and blood transfusion throughout Saturday night, causing his condition to improve, “but he is not out of the woods yet,” the sheriff’s office said on Sunday, Aug. 29.

“Please keep K-9 Duke and Trooper Lewis and his family in your thoughts and prayers as K-9 Duke continues to receive treatment for his condition,” the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit wrote on Facebook. “Trooper Lewis and K-9 Duke are assigned to Fauquier County and work closely with our K-9 Unit. We are praying for a quick and full recovery!”

Virginia State Police shared pictures of a number of Duke’s fellow K-9’s around the Commonwealth, each sitting next to “Get Well” signs for Duke.

As of 11:19 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 30, Virginia State Police say Duke is still being treated for heat exhaustion.

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