DNR Game Warden K-9 dies unexpectedly while tracking poacher near Oconee National Forest

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Law Enforcement Division is grieving the loss of K-9 Game Warden Rio, who gave his life in the line of duty today, assisting in the pursuit of a suspected poacher. The heroic K-9 served as a dedicated partner to Corporal Keith Page for six years, ultimately succumbing to a sudden medical emergency while on a mission near the Oconee National Forest.

The tragic incident unfolded in Jasper County as Game Warden K-9 Rio, alongside Cpl. Keith Page and GWFC Westin Rabon, was in the process of tracking down a suspected poacher who was hunting without permission near the Oconee National Forest. The team had successfully located the suspect, and Cpl. Page, with K-9 Rio at his side, initiated a backtrack to search for further evidence when Rio suffered an apparent medical episode.

Despite Cpl. Page's desperate attempts to revive the courageous K-9, Rio passed away around 11 a.m. 

K-9 Rio, who began his service at just 12 months old in 2017, had been an integral part of the team's success, helping to protect wildlife and maintain the sanctity of Georgia's natural habitats. He had been partnered with Cpl. Page for 6 years.

Rio was transported back to Barnesville under an American flag, with a solemn procession led by the Lamar County Sheriff's Office. 

The loss of K-9 Game Warden Rio is a devastating blow to the DNR and the local community. NDR is asking everyone to keep Cpl. Page and his family in their thoughts and prayers.