Roseville police officer John Jorgensen used to joke that his K-9 partner was indestructible.
As a 2-year-old, Major developed bloat, an often fatal condition that causes a dog’s stomach to fill with gas. He had pots broken over his head. Suspects punched and kicked him.
On one police call, Jorgensen said, Major nearly drowned chasing a man in to a lake.
On Nov. 12, 2010, he proved his grit again when a man involved in a Maplewood burglary repeatedly stabbed the dog with a butterfly knife.
The assault left Major paralyzed in his hind legs and forced his retirement from the police department, but it didn’t kill him.
Two and half years later and in deteriorating health, Major was euthanized at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 30. He was 11 years old.
Using a wheeled sling to preserve mobility, he lived out his retirement with Jorgensen and his family.
“He was a tough dog. … He caught a lot of bad guys and made a strong name for himself and I was lucky and honored to have him as a partner,” Jorgensen said. “I miss him terribly, but I think he is in a better spot. He is probably chasing down bad guys on four good legs now.”
In his final days, Major had started to develop pneumonia and was going on his third bladder infection in three months.
“I promised myself and I promised him that we would make that decision if his quality of life deteriorated to the point where he was too weak and The old partners spent Major’s last day driving around to spots they’d patrolled together during Major’s eight years with Roseville police. For his final meal, he was given cheeseburgers from McDonald’s and ice cream from Dairy Queen.
he didn’t have the same happiness,” Jorgensen said of the choice to put Major down. “It was just time.”
The man who assaulted Major, Roel Joseph Perez Jr., was sentenced in February 2011 to 120 days in jail, but ended up serving a year after he violated the terms of his probation, Jorgensen said.
The Roseville police officer pushed for harsher penalties for those convicted of assaulting police dogs after the attack on Major.
In 2011, Gov. Mark Dayton signed new legislation that makes any assault resulting in substantial bodily harm to a police K9 a felony.
Major’s death is a blow to the entire Roseville Police Department, said Lt. Lorne Rosand.
“They were great crime fighters,” Rosand said of the work Jorgensen and Major did for the department. “They did a lot of wonderful things for our agency and for the citizens of Roseville.”
Jorgensen has been working with a new police K9, Otis, for the past year.
“I always say if Otis ends up being half the police dog Major was, he will be phenomenal,” Jorgensen said. “He was truly a handler’s dream.”