‘Trying to find words for this one’: Winnipeg police mourn loss of service dog, Banner

Banner had served with the Winnipeg Police Service since 2014. (Winnipeg Police Service/Facebook)

The Winnipeg Police Service is saying goodbye to one of its four-legged officers.

Five-year-old Banner, who has served nearly as long as he was alive, died suddenly from a medical issue on Wednesday.

“Trying to find words for this one, but it’s tough,” police spokesperson Const. Jay Murray posted on Reddit.

“Banner and his handler were well respected and very successful on the streets. It was always great to see them. Their work ethic was second to none.”

The police service posted photos of Banner to Facebook on Thursday morning, announcing his death “with great sadness.”

The Belgian Malinois was one of the service’s model dogs, literally. He was featured in the annual calendar and in a video on tracking.

Murray said Banner and his handler also volunteered much of their time in the community.

“An example is just the other week, when they came to meet a child who had just finished treatment for leukemia.”

Cassie Maeren witnessed the emotional tribute paid by officers to Banner on Wednesday and posted about it on Facebook.

“I wanted to share something I saw today that has left me feeling a whole mix of emotions,” she wrote, going on to explain seeing a canine unit pull up to the vet hospital in the city’s Bridgwater neighbourhood.

“Fast forward an hour or so and tons of other police cars show up at the vet and are parked all around the building. A bunch of officers get out of their cars and are standing at the door to meet the handler who is walking out with a large box.

“The handler loads the box into the back of the K-9 unit vehicle and everyone appears to be crying and hugging.”

Banner was featured in the police service’s annual calendar. (Winnipeg Police Service/Facebook)

As the vehicle with the box drove off, every other cruiser turned on their lights as well and followed the canine unit slowly down the street, Maeren said.

“It was an absolutely beautiful send off.”

The police service has said it will release more information on Banner Thursday afternoon.

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