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Racine Police Chief Art Howell has confirmed that retired K9 officer Marco died Monday after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

“I have sad news this morning. We just learned that retired K9 Marco (was euthanized) after recently discovered lung cancer,” Howell told Racine County Eye. “We would like to thank the community for their support during his illness earlier this year.”

Marco suffered in May from a life-threatening case of bloat, and residents from near and far answered the call to help pay for his medical bills.

His prognosis then was positive, so the news of his passing Monday on the Racine Police K9 Facebook page came as a shock and a surprise.

Kitti Berken Rodriguez posted this message, “Marco thank you for your service. You are a good boy, and you will be missed. Enjoy running in heaven with all the dogs who have gone before you.”

Most citizen reactions were similar to Sue Haas’.

“I am so sorry to hear about Marco. It is a big loss for Officer Waystedt and the entire K-9 unit,” she wrote.

RPD released an official statement Monday afternoon, saying the dog was a valued member of the force.

“Marco had a long and distinguished career with our department, assisting officers in locating narcotics and capturing offenders. Marco will be sorely missed as we remember his loyal service and constant friendship,” the statement reads.

Marco went into service in 2006 with Officer Tim Waystedt, and he retired earlier this year.

The average K9 works between six and ten years, though most dogs retire after eight and settle into life as a family pet.