Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office
K9 Balu will be remembered as a faithful protector and partner to Detective Mark Gregory and as a dear pet to his family.
“He was a great partner,” Gregory said of Balu who died last week at age 12. “He watched over me any second I was out of the car on traffic stops and everything else.”
German Shepherd Balu and Gregory protected each other when two Georgia murder suspects fired several rounds into Gregory’s sheriff’s cruiser during a pursuit July 2017 on Interstate 24.
The K-9 is trained to sprint toward gunfire. He was trying to figure out the origin of the gunfire.
“They were shooting at me and I was just trying to hold him to protect him,” Gregory said. They were not injured in the shooting.
The German shepherd joined the Sheriff’s Office in 2011 and worked with handlers, Detective Bo Davis and Detective Mike Hoekstra before becoming Gregory’s partner. He was trained as a dual purpose patrol dog who detected illegal narcotics and apprehended suspects accused of felony crimes.
“One of his best finds was his retirement day and he located 12 Kilos of cocaine in a hidden trap in a tractor trailer,” Gregory said. The cocaine was worth $1 million in street value.
Balu led his partners to methamphetamine, heroin and 52 pounds of marijuana in his career.
He detained numerous felony suspects, including a suspect caught in the act of stealing items from a store.
Balu worked 40 hours a week for 4-1/2 years with Gregory until he retired in 2019 with eight years of service. He spent his retirement with Gregory and his family and playing with his dog buddy, Bear. He also liked to chew on tires.