FREEPORT — Gass, the city’s K-9 officer who survived an assault earlier this year, died last week from an intestinal issue less than 12 hours after he began exhibiting symptoms of distress, officials said.
The K-9 served with the Freeport Police Department for the last four years alongside Officer Blake Wagner. He and Gass remained together off-duty, allowing Wagner to see the gentler, quirkier side of his K-9 partner.
“He was the protector of my family when at home and my protector while at work,” Wagner said. “He was more than just a dog to me. He was my partner, one of my best friends and a member of my family.”
Gass began whining, grunting and acting lethargic Friday night, so Wagner took him to a veterinary clinic in Freeport, Detective Clay Hutcherson said.
“He told me something was wrong, and I listened,” Wagner said.
After being stabilized, Wagner took his partner to a specialist in Houston, and medics there determined Gass had a twisted intestine. Despite being rushed into surgery, too much time had passed for them to save the K-9, Wagner said.
Hutcherson understands what Wagner is going through with losing Gass, having previously been a handler, the detective said.
“I went through the same thing about four or five years ago. It isn’t easy,” Hutcherson said.
Gass earned notoriety in January after responding to a burglary call in the city. When officers attempted to apprehend the woman, she hit the German shepherd on the nose, leaving him stunned, police said. Another officer apprehended the woman after using a Taser on her, police said.
The woman reached a plea agreement in July after being charged with burglary of a habitation and interference with a police service animal, according to online court records.
Police dogs are more than just animals or tools, something Wagner believes people often forget. Gass had character and personality, Wagner said.
“He will be greatly missed by many and will forever hold a special place in my heart,” Wagner said.
Mayor Troy Brimage and City Manager Tim Kelty acknowledged the loss to the city and Wagner during Monday night’s council meeting.
“Keep Officer Wagner in your prayers. Gass was certainly very close to him, and he truly thought of him as a partner,” Brimage said.
A memorial service will be at 3 p.m. Sept. 27 at Hooks on the Brazos, 301 S. Brazosport Blvd. in Freeport, Hutcherson said.