Image of Zar from Newberry Township PD

YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM)– A police K9 died suddenly Tuesday evening in York County, according to officials.

According to York County Office of Emergency Management spokesperson Ted Czech, the K9’s name was Zar and he is a Belgian Malinois-German Shepherd mix. Zar was five and a half years old when he passed away unexpectedly, Newberry Township Police said.

Zar did not die on the job, police said that he passed away due to an accident where he choked on a ball while training with his partner Officer Nicholas Vozzella.

“While he was doing his training, agility, and the obedience work, his reward was a toy,” police chief Steven Luntz said. “He ( Vozzella) was playing ball with K9 Zar and the ball got lodged in K9 Zar’s mouth and they were unable to retrieve it after several different attempts.”

Zar was escorted to Newberry Animal Emergency Center along 1640 Old Trail Road and his body arrived at about 9:30 p.m., Czech said. Luntz said that there were about 35 to 40 police vehicles that showed up for the escort.

Zar served for five and a half years with the department and was trained in suspect apprehension, narcotics detection, article services, handler protection, and patrol activities. During his service, K9 Zar has removed many harmful drugs from the streets of the community. Zar was also responsible for locating a firearm that was used during a 2021 attempted homicide and that was discarded in heavy brush.

K9 Zar joined Newberry PD’s force with another K9, named Rico, in 2019, after the death of a K9 named Taser, according to police. Both dogs became certified through the North American Police Work Dog Association.

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