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Former Red Lodge police dog dies during routine surgery

Posted at 5:13 PM, Apr 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-25 19:13:32-04

RED LODGE – The Red Lodge K-9 involved in a custody battle last year between his partner and city has died.

Drago, a Belgian Malinois service dog, passed away from complications during a routine surgery on Sunday, according to the Lewis and Bark Outpost.

His partner, Officer Maleri Cates, fought to keep Drago after the K-9 program was terminated.

Residents and supporters raised money for Cates to purchase Drago from the city.

Cates say she is glad people want to memorialize him and that "he was a corner stone in the community."

Her full statement: 

"He was an incredible dog, partner, and friend. I loved him so much and when he passed away a piece of me went with him. He was a huge part of our lives and there will always be a hole from where he was. He had an incredible personality and was always by our sides. I’m so glad people are wanting to memorialize him. He was a corner stone in that community."

Related: Red Lodge hands over police dog to officer after ending K-9 program