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North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation K-9 dead after 2 months

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North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem with Hex, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation electronic detection K-9, in 2019.

North Dakota's Bureau of Criminal Investigation has lost its new K-9 agent.

Hex, a yellow Labrador, collapsed and died Jan. 31 in Fargo after returning from assisting with a search warrant in central North Dakota. He was 2.

At a recent checkup, a veterinarian found Hex had an abnormally shaped heart with an arrythmia in the lower ventricle. Further tests found a 2½-inch cancerous growth inside the dog's heart wall, preventing surgery.

He was thought to have several months left, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem told the Tribune on Thursday.

North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation welcomes first K-9

"It was so very sad," said Stenehjem, who had presented Hex with a badge on Dec. 2, naming him an agent of the state crime bureau.

Hex was paired with Special Agent Jesse Smith, based in Fargo with the bureau's cybercrime unit. He specialized in locating electronic devices such as hard drives, cellphones and memory cards, which are commonly associated with child pornography.

He was the bureau's first K-9 and the only dog of his specialization in the region, according to Stenehjem, who said Hex was used in about half a dozen cases.

"He already proved his worth. He was a very valuable dog," Stenehjem said. 

Hex was trained at Jordan Detection K-9 in Indiana, where he graduated on Nov. 15 after six months of training and two weeks of handler school. He was funded by Operation Underground Railroad, which works to eliminate child sex trafficking. 

Stenehjem said the bureau has contacted the training company and will receive another dog at no cost to the state. He doesn't know when the new dog might arrive. Smith will be the dog's handler.

Hex's loss is especially hard as he lived with Smith's family, Stenehjem said.

"Unless you have a pet who dies, you don't really realize how much of a part of the family they've become, but they do," he said.

Hex's remains were cremated and preserved in an urn for Smith, Stenehjem said. 

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or


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