K9 Luna succumbs to multiple organ failure

By Brandi Makuski

A Stevens Point Police K9 died Wednesday morning.

According to a news release from Lt. Robert Kussow, K9 Luna died at about 2 a.m. on Sept. 4 at the Animal Referral Center in Appleton.

“It is with profound sadness that we must report that the Stevens Point Police Department lost one of their own, and without a doubt, most beloved member this morning,” Kussow’s email read in part. “Luna died of multiple organ failure.”

Luna was rushed to the ARC Monday night after her handler, Officer JD Ballew, witnessed the two-and-a-half-year-old Belgian Malinois experience a series of seizures. Skibba made the announcement at Tuesday’s Police and Fire Commission meeting.

“They’ve given her a 20-to-30 percent chance of recovery,” Skibba said Sept. 3.

Assistant Police Chief Tom Zenner said initially, Luna was taken to the department’s regular veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Novak, at the Stevens Point Animal Hospital, for what was believed to be a “delayed reaction to fentanyl.” Novak referred Ballew to the ARC.

After several tests, doctors in Appleton believe Luna was potentially suffering from wild mushroom poisoning, Zenner said. He does not believe the exposure was service-connected.

“A lot of personnel in the department have become very attached to her,” Zenner said. “You’re going to see some long faces in the department for a while.”

Luna was one of two dogs purchased by the department in 2018 when it installed its new K9 program. Luna and her counterpart, Fala, were trained in drug identification, human/article tracking, and suspect apprehension.

Kussow said Luna’s career with the department was short, but added, “she served the community honorably and was loved by everyone she came in contact with.”

Luna lived with her handler, Lead Officer JD Ballew, and his family in Stevens Point.

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