A Kentucky K-9 officer that sniffed out a major drug bust died in the line of duty when he was hit by a car.
Bell County Sheriff's Deputy James Taulbee and his partner, Kane, were called to assist state police over the weekend at a traffic stop on a busy highway.
Kane, a handsome German shepherd, detected drugs in the car of a man who had been pulled over, Sheriff Mitch Williams said.
Several bags of marijuana and clear, rock-like substances were discovered in the vehicle and the driver was arrested, authorities said.
When Taulbee tossed a reward ball to Kane, it bounced off his nose and rolled into traffic. The dog bounded after the ball and was struck by a car.
Kane died en route to an animal hospital, the sheriff said.
The department is devastated.
"We're naturally going through a grieving process," Williams said. "We grieve for the K-9 unit because we build a bond with it. The bond between a K-9 handler and his dog is beyond what we can comprehend."
Taulbee has been given a few days off, the sheriff said. A police funeral is planned for Kane.