News Details

Saying goodbye to Explosive Detection K9, Sam

We are saddened to announce the passing of one of our Explosive Detection K9s, Sam. 

Sam, a 9-year-old black Labrador, served with the Sheriff’s Department for more than three years with his partner, Investigator Mireles. 

Before joining the Sheriff’s Department, Sam worked as an Explosive Detection K9 with the United States Marine Corps, completing two, four-month tours of duty in Afghanistan. Sam joined the Sheriff's Department through a military surplus program that allowed the department to put Sam's keen nose to good use. 

Sam was best suited for sniffing out explosives thanks to his high energy and drive. He’d do anything for a quick round of fetch with his favorite tennis ball – a game that helped ensure some of Orange County’s most well-attended events and venues were safe. 

Investigator Mireles and Sam, along with other K9 teams from the OCSD Hazardous Devices Section (commonly referred to as the Bomb Squad), were often called to sweep the Angel Stadium and the Honda Center before big games, or VIP motorcades and hotels housing high-profile clientele. The Huntington Beach Air Show, the US Open of Surfing, the Ohana Festival, and the Orange County Marathon also were among the many events Sam worked.  

The energetic Lab didn’t care where his nose was needed, he simply loved being on duty.

When not working his various assignments, Sam lived with Investigator Mireles. He most loved a good game of fetch with a tennis ball or Frisbee, or cooling down in the swimming pool.

Every morning, Sam would greet Investigator Mireles, ready to work.  And when the Investigator returned home from an outing without his K9 partner, the unmistakable sound of Labrador feet furiously pawing at the door was there to greet him.  

“He was always moving, always jumping and happy, always raring to go,” Mireles said. “He loved what he did.”  

Early in November, Investigator Mireles noticed a small mass growing on the side of Sam’s head, but it seemed nothing a trip to the vet and some antibiotics couldn’t fix.  

A couple days after seeing the vet, Mireles woke up to give Sam his morning meal and didn’t hear the sound of Labrador paws scratching at the door that he was so accustomed to.

Instead, he was met with silence and Sam lying in his kennel.

Sam was too ill to work.

Mireles noticed the original mass on Sam’s head had grown and was accompanied by a second mass on the opposite side of his head.

After numerous examinations and tests over two months, veterinarians determined the masses were not cancerous but could not pinpoint the disease taking a toll on Sam’s health.  

Sam’s condition worsened after several weeks of treatment. He struggled to walk without limping and was clearly in pain.

Sam was put to rest the morning of Jan. 3 with Investigator Mireles by his side. The veterinarians at Yorba Regional Animal Hospital, the facility that cares for the Sheriff’s Department’s K9s, came in one by one to say their goodbyes. 

“It was heartbreaking,” Mireles said. “You wonder if Sam knew that day that something about that trip to the vet was different.” 

We are grateful for Sam’s years of service to our department and to our country for his work as an Explosive Detection K9.

RIP, Sam.