Nero, a K9 officer with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, died unexpectedly while being boarded.

ST. JOSEPH — Hearts were heavy at the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Thursday, June 27, as police learned of the death of Nero, one of the department’s K9 of­ficers.

Nero, a 7-year-old Bel­gian Tervuren, was found dead by staff at a kennel where he was being board­ed while his handler, Dep­uty Brandon Crosby, is on vacation.

“It is with great sadness that we inform you that we have lost one of our beloved, loyal and faithful family members today,” Undersheriff Chuck Heit stated in an email to area media. “Nero has been a devoted and loyal partner to Deputy Brandon Cros­by for the last five years. Our thoughts and prayers are with Deputy Crosby and his family at this time.”

Heit said the sheriff’s office is waiting for the results of a necropsy (animal autopsy) that is being done on Nero at Purdue Univer­sity to determine the cause of his death.

Nero was found dead Thursday morning at Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Ind., where he was trained and purchased from, Heit said.

Crosby has been with the sheriff’s department since 2011 and became a K9 handler when Nero joined the department in 2014. Nero was born in April 2011 and was brought to the United States from the Czech Republic.

Heit said the dog was cross-trained in explosives detection, handler protec­tion and tracking.

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